Links 5/28/19

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The butterfly effect: what one species’ miraculous comeback can teach us Guardian (David L)

More fishing vessels chasing fewer fish, new study finds PhysOrg (Lance N). Quelle surprise :-(

Stunning Satirical Sand Sculpture Wins Texas Competition Geek (David L)

Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects New York Times and Navy Pilots Are Seeing UFOs on an Almost-Daily Basis: Report New York Magazine (David L)

NASA Will Carry Your Name On a Chip To Mars The Verge

Under the dome: Fears Pacific nuclear ‘coffin’ is leaking PhysOrg (Chuck L)

What If We Could Reuse The Packaging on Consumer Products? AdAge

This Crafty Robot Can Write in Languages It’s Never Seen Before Wired (Robert M)

Man dies on plane after ingesting 246 cocaine bags BBC

WHO Officially Classifies ‘Gaming Disorder’ As An Illness CNET

The Atomic Soldiers: U.S. Veterans, Used as Guinea Pigs, Break the Silence Atlantic (David L, UserFriendly).

World’s Rivers ‘Awash With Dangerous Levels of Antibiotics’ Guardian


U.S. ‘Not Ready’ to Make a Trade Deal With China, Trump Says Bloomberg

Huawei Founder Says He Would Oppose Chinese Retaliation Against Apple Reuters

British Consumers Have Started To Dump Huawei Phones Los Angeles Times

Americans Snap Up Imports From Vietnam at China’s Expense Bloomberg

Japan To Limit Foreign Ownership of Firms in Its IT, Telecom Sectors Reuters


Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Reelection Spells More Frustration For US Tech Giants TechCrunch

EU Elections

Filling Europe’s top jobs just got trickier RTE. PlutoniumKun: “The Euro elections just complicated nominations for Europes top posts. It looks like the Socialists and Greens are trying to pull the centre of gravity leftward.”

France and Germany clash over future EU leadership Financial Times

EU election: AfD surge in eastern Germany sets up clash of cultures DW


Corbyn backs referendum on Brexit deal after voter exodus Guardian (furzy). The headline-writers get a gold star. It’s frustrating to seem pols and the press refer to “second referendum” which when the EU and virtually all mentions in the UK prior to 2019 meant a redo of the 2016 referendum with a better question, now too often means a “confirmatory referendum” and I can’t imagine the EU being willing to indulge that due to how much time and uncertainty it would entail.

Britain’s Great Brexit Divide Gets Deeper Bloomberg

New Cold War

Democracy vs. The Putin-Nazis Off-Guardian


Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain American Conservative (resilc)

Pakistani clerics declare fatwa against ‘sinful’ dollar buying Financial Times (furzy)

How Jimmy Carter Laid the Groundwork for Trump to Go to War With Iran Washington Monthly (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Apple Executive Dismisses Google CEO’s Criticism Over Turning Privacy Into a ‘Luxury Good’ The Verge

Grindr Let Chinese Engineers See Data From Millions of Americans Reuters

In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen NSA Tool Wreaks Havoc New York Times

The future of AT&T is an ad-tracking nightmare hellworld The Verge

Trump Transition

Muellergate, A Report Review: Who Cooked Up the ‘Russiagate’ Conspiracy? Black Agenda Report

Senate GOP vows to quickly quash any impeachment charges The Hill

Trump’s wrecking ball assaults American government. Luckily, it is strongly built Robert Reich, Guardian (resilc)

Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jonathan Turley, The Hill. From last week, still germane.

Lindsey Graham proposes invading Venezuela Vox (resilc)


Nevada emerges as wild card in 2020 Democratic race The Hill

At Homecoming Rally in Montpelier, Bernie Sanders Thanks Vermont Off Message (resilc)

The Worst 2020 Election Interference Will Be Perfectly Legal Caitlin Johnstone (UserFriendly)

The Mass Media Is Poisoning Us With Hate Chris Hedges, TruthDig (RR)

Bank bailouts propped up the financial system. But we should never repeat them. Shiela Bair, Washington Post

Guillotine Watch

Why the Global Billionaire Population Is Declining Barron’s. UserFriendly: “The real reason Trump is allowed to have his trade war is because his tax cut made north america the only region to increase how many billionaires it has while making less of them elsewhere.”

Robert Rubin, Who Made a Fortune on the Housing Bubble, and Wanted the Fed to Raise Interest Rates When the Unemployment Rate Was Over 6.0 Percent, Is Concerned About the Social Determinants of Health Dean Baker

Class Warfare

Some Americans Have Fled The Country To Escape Student Loan Debt CNBC

Antidote du jour. Lozza262:

Hi, a stray cat came into my house in United Arab Emirates 6 weeks back and decided to have her kittens in my bedroom. Now they’re about 6 weeks old and super cute. I believe this is an Arabian Mau cat as most of the strays (and there are a lot in the UAE) are local Arabians.

And a bonus (martha r):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Anonymous2

      Germany (CDU-CSU) wants Weber (German) to be the next Commission President. The French do not. I expect it will get sorted eventually. I am unsure Germany gets the Commission Presidency or the ECB headship but time will tell.

    1. Wukchumni

      Yeah, I remember that cartoon, and a lot easier to draw than sculpt out of sand…

      In the 60’s I was sure i’d have my very own jet-pack pretty soon, and was scared to death of quicksand, which always seemed to get in the way of an adventure on tv or in the movies and was everywhere, or so they led us to believe.

      In other sculpture venues, about a decade ago we had skied from the Sherman Tree parking lot about a mile or so towards the Room Tree (a nearly 20 foot wide 2,000 year old Sequoia caught fire and went into the main trunk on one side & then going upward 25 feet before burning-out many centuries ago creating a chamber that can hold half a dozen people and sleeps 3 comfortably) and came across something in a place where there was hardly an audience to ever see it’s artist’s touch.

      In a clearing bereft of but a flat snowy canvas, somebody or a number of somebodies had sculpted a 8 foot tall mama bear who was stacked with what might approximate a breast enlargement too far if it was on a human, but it looked good on a frozen white bruin, and said sculpture had a smile on her countenance made of twigs, while her 6 foot tall paramour 10 feet away was wearing a light lime green lichen beret and smoking a twigarette, while sporting nearly 2 feet of (snow)manhood.

      1. Monty

        I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      I remember Mauldin saying in his bio how hard he worked to get Lincoln’s hair right.

      Thanks. I knew that sculpture looked famliar.

  1. Roger Smith

    Wow (not World of Warcaft). I would love a job at the WHO kicking the can around an office doing nothing while making the big bucks. Put me in coach, I’m ready! What is the difference between someone gaming and eating poorly etc… and watching T.V. or films and doing the same exact thing? This is another bogus attack on activities geared toward youth that are no different from the analogous potentially destructive activities everyone else is doing. First it was texting and driving, as if texting is someone a graver distraction that dialing a number, talking on the phone, messing with the radio, fiddling with paperwork, applying makeup, or struggling with a shove a greasy McDonald’s sandwich down your throat. I am surprised the WHO didn’t literally say that symptoms included an unnatural addiction to Mountain Dew and Doritos. I thought we got rid of Tipper Gore?

    1. IdahoSpud

      In other news, reading too many comic books is destroying our youth! Also rock ‘n’ roll music.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t believe you’ve run across anyone with gaming disorder, which is not surprising since the essence of the disorder is the extreme isolation of those afflicted. Read the definition of the term again: Gaming disorder “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” My young adult son was afflicted with this disorder. He never left his room except to quickly eat whatever was quick and easy — usually some leftovers I made for him — before hurrying back into his room to play computer games. He didn’t go to school, work at a job, or use the car I got for him. He regarded everything as a distraction from playing his computer games. I don’t believe the computer games caused the underlying problems which triggered my son’s illness. The computer games made his isolation more endurable. I believe he isolated himself because he felt unable to face or surmount the many conflicting expectations and demands of being a young adult in today’s school, work, and social worlds. I believe we have built a Society ill-suited for humans to live in. Gaming disorder is not just “another bogus attack on activities geared toward youth”. The attacks on our youth are not bogus any more than the attacks on the rest of us in a Society I believe is increasingly designed to create insanity.

      The disorder was first observed on a large scale in Japan where those who suffer from this illness are called hikikomori. For a long time the Japanese were inclined to believe this was a problem unique to Japan until a growing number of cases were identified in China and Korea, and many other countries. As stated in the link the DSM-5 has Gaming Disorder up for discussion for possible inclusion. As I recall one of the reasons given for not including Gaming Disorder is that there are already existing diagnoses which better cover the underlying mental illnesses which manifest as Gaming Disorder. In my opinion this view may best fit diagnostic niceties but — how can you get help for someone who never comes out of their room or socializes.

      The link shows a picture of young man playing a game on his what looks like his phone while sitting on his couch with chips and soda cans on their sides arrayed around his coffee table. Compare that image with the image of a hikikomori’s room at the head of the story in a BBC news magazine from some years ago [“Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?”, The second image is much closer to the appearance of my son’s room, and I would not characterize the mess in the second image is just typical teenage messiness and clutter. It has a different feeling to it.

      1. tegnost

        +1 the line that got to me was
        There are more reasonable ways of dealing with student debt, said Nassirian, at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

        Struggling borrowers should enter into one of the government’s income-based repayment plans instead, in which their monthly bill will be capped at a portion of their income, he said. Some payments wind up being as little as $0 a month.

        I don’t see that as reasonable…extending the term of the loan so you’re making payments for your entire life, mostly interest I figure, then after a lifetime of work they’ll ding your social security. Our financial system is hostile to the population. It doesn’t have to be this way.

        1. UserFriendly

          It isn’t for the rest of your life, it’s 20 years. At which time the balance gets forgiven but you have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven. Of course what they fail to mention is that they don’t look at any other expenses you have when they calculate how much you have to pay each month. As part of my FASFA award I got a loan from the state of the state school I went to, which is essentially a private loan: No flexibility whatsoever on repayment, no forbearance and payments I had to make didn’t count towards anything with my federal loans. Not that I had any understanding of that when I accepted my full aid package which still didn’t come anywhere close to covering cost of living.

      2. Cal2

        Another exiled American, just ‘Biden his time until he dies to discharge his student debts.

        However, Biden, Obama, McCain all voted to bail out banks.

        45 million Americans have student loans, 22% in default, up to 40% by 2023.
        Thanks to Biden, they can never discharge student loans for fraudulent for profit schools, absolute poverty or life long disabilities. Are the Democrats stupid enough to nominate this enemy of the American people?

        Imagine: “BidenHarris2020”, Trump would win in a landslide.

        1. redleg

          Q: Are the Democrats stupid enough to nominate this enemy of the American people?

          DNC: hold my beer.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Are the Democrats stupid smart enough to nominate this enemy of the American people?

            Yes. That way they can lose, pretend to be mad and frustrated about it, and get back to the serious business of grifting and Permanent War

    1. zagonostra

      I think the reason why the story is being recycled is to communicate the subtext of the article, i.e., to dissuade more students crippled with debt to leave the country.

      Although the Education Department typically can’t garnish someone’s wages if they’re working for a company outside of the United States, it can take up to 15 percent of their Social Security benefits when they start collecting…

      Moving to another country to escape student debt is risky, experts say. If the person wants or needs to return to the United States, they’ll find their loan balance has only grown while they were gone, thanks to compound interest, collection charges and late fee…

      “The loans do not disappear when you become an expat,” said Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert.

      1. jrs

        well at least they have skills and options to leave the country. There are so many people trapped in poverty in the U.S. that never will.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      A big problem for USasians with student debt is the strength of the dollar. Back in the mid 00’s lots of Canadians moved to Europe to work precisely because the Euro was very strong relative to the Can dollar – it allowed them to pay them off much quicker if they could get a work visa. A Canadian I knew who had Irish citizenship told me she had lots of offers from gay Canadians of marriage for this purpose alone.

      I’ve often thought that a developing country could do worse than offer strategic refugee status for high quality US engineering graduates as a way to jump start an industry. Since returning home would leave them exposed to the debts, they’d pretty much have them for life.

  2. ambrit

    Re. the bear antidote;
    Sorry, but the caption writer of the bear video wins the ‘Pseudo Darwin Award’ for that outright lie. Black bears are absolutely dangerous when cornered or have their cubs threatened. Any large mammal would be. I’ve seen Black Bear close up in the wilds of Louisiana. That specimen was about as big as me, and, unlike me, had big, strong claws. Did I mention the teeth?
    As animal trainers all over the world will tell you, those critters aren’t called ‘wild’ in jest.

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      i noticed how much smaller the third cub was – that little bear should enjoy their time here, it may be later than they think

    2. Carolinian

      Some years ago a woman was killed at Great Smoky Mtns NP by a bear with cubs. They also partially ate her. But mostly black bears are worried about us predating them and occupying their ever shrinking wilderness. We had a baby one in my in town neighborhood a couple of years back.

    3. Wukchumni

      My first black bear encounter came when I was 4. My dad was mad about Giant Sequoias, and until the turn of the century*, you could rent rustic cabins right in the middle of the Giant Forest, so every summer we’d be there a week or more since I was almost 2.

      I opened the door inwards of the cabin, and what was on the porch but a gigantic bear with a metal trash can lid in one raised paw-about to claw through the contents of the can and was looking at me 6 feet away, and I couldn’t close the door quick enough, ran to my bed and put a pillow over my head in the way kids do when they’re terrified.

      My mom told me recently that she could control me for about a year afterwards by merely including the possibility of a bear intruding on me again.

      In my experience the bears here are more akin to curious big dogs, not quite labs, and certainly not pit bulls, but a friendly cur.

      Incidents of anybody being hurt by bears in the Sierra are rare, it’s a delight to glimpse them, knowing that.

      Had a long encounter last year where we watched a 2 or 3 year old hang out for almost half an hour one afternoon at our campsite, shit out of luck @ getting into our pick-a-nick baskets, er bear canisters, sorry boo-boo.

      Usually encounters are brief, a few seconds to a minute or 2.

      * they were all removed in 1998 and the parking lot is still there, and sometimes i’ll take a walk and there’ll be a 15 foot tall pine on a pad where a cabin stood and lots of little trees filling it back in

      1. MichaelSF

        I had that same experience at a cabin in Sequoia NP though I think I was about 9-10 (early 1960s), and I slammed the door and put my back to it with my arms outstretched and refused to let anyone go out.

    4. Robert Valiant

      “Harmless” if you stay safely in your car.

      I used to pick wild apples on the outskirts of a tiny little town called Joseph in northeastern Oregon state. Sometimes, when approaching the trees from a distance, I would hear a familiar low grunting. In the trees would be one or two small black bears enjoying the apples. They looked cute, content, and harmless, but I always turned around and walked home.

      No apple pie those nights.

      1. Wukchumni

        We don’t get a lot of bear action in the foothills usually, but in the fall of 2015 ravenous drought ravaged bears made their way here by the hundreds and they were all about acorns and picky bastards didn’t want the ones on the ground, so you’d see 3 up in an oak tree harvesting, and breaking off dead and sometime live branches in the effort, it was quite something-the epoch that lasted about a month and they were gone back to their regular haunts for hibernation. Captain Kirk has a ranch hereabouts and they ju-jitsu’d his orchard.

        They did a number on the apple orchard at Shatner’s Belle Reve ranch, said caretaker Sal Natoli…

        The trees look ‘just like Venus de Milo,’ the armless ancient Greek statue, Mr Natoli said.

      2. Lee

        I got treed by a charging mama black bear when I got too close to her cubs in the relict apple orchard in Yosemite valley. I picked apples and threw them to the bears til they ate their fill and left. Black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans unless starving or provoked by ignorant behavior, such as I displayed as a callow youth dazzled by baby bear cuteness.

        1. Wukchumni

          Longest encounter I had was 45 minutes a few hundred feet before Tokopah Falls, out of Lodgepole. A bear was systematically stripping a hillside of bitter cherries (1/5 the size of fruit cherries) and I was only 30 feet away the whole time, sitting on a flat boulder watching.

          …it’s a banquet when those yucky for humans-delicious for bears, cherries are ripe

  3. dearieme

    I thought the Jimmy Carter piece feeble. He announced a policy forty years ago and someone wants to pretend that that decision binds his successors? On those grounds Her Majesty, who is Duke of Normandy, would claim back that inheritance.

    P.S. Yes, she is “duke” not duchess, apparently, in the usage of the Channel Islands.

    1. upstater

      The Carter Doctrine set into motion all of the interventions in MENA since 1980. He has direct personal responsibility. The Carter Center work of recent years does not in anyway absolve Carter. He has never renounced his policy.

      Did the Carter Doctrine bind his successors? Technically not, but the entire MIC apparatus became focused on that issue in the same manner as the Truman Doctrine committed the US to a cold war lasting decades and multiple hot wars.

      Carter is as much of a war monger as the rest of US presidents. Are there any US presidents in the past 120 years that have not been war presidents?

      1. pretzelattack

        sorry, the u.s. has been interfering with other countries since its inception. the republicans like this guy from the hoover institute have been blaming carter to absolve reagan’s failures since reagan delayed the release of the hostages, and this has the added benefit of absolving bolton. carter’s policies of arms negotiations, a less israel friendly foreign policy, conditioning aid in el salvador on reining in the death squads, trying to start to deal with energy conservation (solar panels on the white house) were all rolled back and disavowed by reagan, who continued the relationship with iran to illegally supply it with weapons, helped saddam get wmd’s, took off the panels, undermined the salt talks, and adopted a much more pro israel foreign policy.
        but now, 40 years down the road, it will be partially his fault if bolton cooks up a war with iran. you want to know who influences bolton and trump? israel.

      2. Alex Cox

        Carter was also responsible for the creation of the Contras, who did such good work torturing and slaughtering our enemies in Nicaragua. When he was governor of Georgia he asked Georgians to drive with their lights on in support of Lieutenant Calley. He is a moral bellwether for us all!

      3. Procopius

        Are there any US presidents in the past 120 years that have not been war presidents?

        Harding, Coolidge, Hoover? There were vague, unclear speculations after Dallas ’63 that JFK was seriously considering withdrawing the (small number of) “advisers” from Vietnam if he was reelected. Don’t know if he needs to be called a “war president” or not, but of course he appointed Rusk as SoS, and Rusk was another typical ignorant anti-Communist who believed in “the monolithic international Communist conspiracy.” Or at least claimed that it was a real thing.

    2. lordkoos

      Carter? You could just easily (and IMO more sensibly) blame it on the CIA and their installation of the Shah of Iran.

  4. Carolinian

    Good Hedges on Taibbi’s recent piece.

    The old media sold itself as objective, although as Taibbi points out, this was more a reflection of tone rather than content. This vaunted objectivity and impartiality was, at its core, an element of a commercial tactic designed to reach the largest numbers of viewers or readers.

    “Objectivity was when I was told I couldn’t write with voice,” Taibbi told me when I interviewed him on my television show, “On Contact.”[…]“I couldn’t write with a point of view. Objectivity was to write in a dull, flat, third-person perspective. Don’t express yourself. Don’t be too colorful. This actually was, if you pick up The New York Times today, that same writing style. The original idea behind it is you didn’t want to turn off people on the start because they’re trying to reach the widest possible audience. This also infected radio, television. That’s why you have this Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather-style delivery, which was monotonal, flat, unopinionated. A lot of people thought this was some kind of an ethical decision that news organizations were making. In fact, what they were trying to do is reach the greatest number of people to sell the greatest number of ads. That’s how we developed that idea.”

    Or as Cronkite used to say: “that’s the way it is.” He also said he created his nightly news broadcast by first scanning the front page of that day’s NY Times. But even Cronkite was willing to dissent when it became obvious that the government was lying. Perhaps the diff with today’s media is that lies no longer seem to matter and if exposed are just chucked into the memory hole.

    Hedges agrees with Taibbi that today’s elites no longer feel secure enough to allow the system to be questioned and so divert public conversation into WWE style hate fests. Our media could be a reflection of more general social disintegration.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      This is what struck me from Hedges’s interview of Taibbi:

      The shaping of the public into antagonistic tribes works commercially. It works politically. But it is a recipe for social disintegration. I watched competing ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia seize rival mass media outlets and use them to spew vitriol and hate against the ethnic group they demonized. The poisonous images and rhetoric that were pumped out month after month in Yugoslavia led to a savage fratricide.

      I waded into the comment thread of a DK post last week in which the author, someone in his (?) 60s, declared his lifelong fellow Indianians to be “irredeemable.” I urged him to rethink this, and quickly was attacked by several commenters. Eventually, things got to the point where I mentioned Yugoslavia and the dangers of fellow citizens hating one another and viewing each other as “irredeemable.” The majority view seemed to be that civil war was OK, even when I pointed out how well the liberals of DK might fare against the well-armed Right. None of this is surprising coming from people who read Moulitsas’s trash day after day, though the remaining sane do occasionally post a diary wondering why the DK “front page,” written by his hirelings, never talks about anything except how bad Republicans are.

      I’m beginning to think that we must add to the greatest threats to our survival–climate change/environmental collapse, nuclear war, economic collapse, killer diseases–the threat of civil war in this country. Maybe Taibbi’s theory that this ramping up of hatred is market driven may be correct, but maybe it’s not. Rather than hire half the working class to kill the other half, it looks to me like the media moguls are using the likes of Rachel Maddow to implant sufficient hatred within enough people that open, violent conflict between ethnic and political groups becomes common in America.

      We have to be spreading peace in our families, our neighborhoods and our communities. Beyond that, we need to be looking for opportunities to increase understanding between groups like rural whites and urban blacks (and how that would generate consternation among the 1% and 10%!).

      1. martell

        Had a disturbing conversation with a family member, a recent college grad, during which she claimed to “hate white men.” When I pointed out that hatred based on racial identity is racist, she began to argue that anti-white racism is impossible, by definition. Though disturbing, none of this surprised me. Not the confident, even self-righteous expression of hate. Not the very carefully tailored definition of racism that she tried to repeat (tailored so certain kinds of race hatred are okay). This is being taught at colleges and universities, informally or formally, by faculty or fellow students. I only wonder why, and I can’t come up with a good answer. I very much doubt it’s the result of any conspiracy aimed at dividing the ruled. Maybe it’s proved to be a successful strategy for acquiring power in certain circles of an increasingly unequal society, a society the members of which are increasingly anxious about rank. But I really don’t know.

      2. lordkoos

        I live in Trump country, eastern WA state. I am seeing levels of racist, phony-Christian nationalism increasing in this region which I find quite disturbing. “Patriot” rallies, various hate groups growing in membership, hard-right weirdos like Matt Shea being elected as state representatives, and so on. Matt Shea, who represents Spokane Valley, wants to create a 51st “liberty” state out of parts of WA, OR, and ID. Shea’s legislative assistant, Rene’ Holaday, said supporters of the 51st state idea were bound by a common sentiment: “It’s either going to be bloodshed or Liberty State.” Werner Herzog recently wrote, “Dear America: You are waking up, as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches.” We live in dark times.

      3. EGrise

        I have some family experience with internecine conflict (North Ireland) and some personal experience with civil war (Sri Lanka) and when someone tells me they think that “civil war (is) OK” I just want to reach through the screen and shake them until their brain reconnects. It’s a bit of a personal hot button.

        In my view nobody wins a civil war ultimately, certainly not in the modern era, rather one side loses more than the other, and any “gains” come at a terrible cost. Not least of which: that society is never the same again. Wishing for civil war is easy for people who’ve never seen one in person.

        I made a promise to myself a while ago that I will never hate my fellow Americans, and certainly not because the media/Zuckerberg/whomever want me to. Spreading peace and understanding, and humanizing each other, is essential if our society (and our civilization) are to survive.

    2. djrichard

      “Objectivity was to write in a dull, flat, third-person perspective. Don’t express yourself. Don’t be too colorful. … what they were trying to do is reach the greatest number of people to sell the greatest number of ads. That’s how we developed that idea.”

      I’m not sure I agree with Taibbi’s diagnosis of the root cause of that. To me it smacks of authoritarianism. A la what The Gervais Principle is getting at in the section on “Meaning and Power through Withdrawal”,

      Recall that Sociopaths create meaning for others through the things they subtract, rather than the things they add. …

      From the persona they present to the Clueless, they subtract human fallibility and imperfection, presenting an illusory ideal of heroic perfection for the Clueless to identify with, and hopelessly strive toward.

      From the persona they present to Losers, they subtract all participatory emotion, turning themselves into detached priests, bearing messages and gifts of emotional capital from hidden benevolent realities.

      The thing is, there’s a market demand for authoritarianism, in particular by the so-called clueless and the so-called losers.

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “What If We Could Reuse The Packaging on Consumer Products

    My local health food store has had a refill program for some time. I think the Loop business model is wildly inefficient (“returned containers will go to New Jersey and then Pennsylvania for washing, then back to the companies’ factories for refilling“), though I understand the health risks for food items. Why not start with things like laundry detergents and other cleansers that could be bulk refilled in the store?

    1. Carla

      Your suggestion makes sense. For that matter, though, my local grocery has bulk bins dispensing grains, legumes, nuts and such. If I were able to bring my own, clean containers from home instead of using the plastic ones the store provides, wouldn’t that make sense? If my containers weren’t perfectly clean, only my household would be at risk, and it would be my responsibility.

      1. Eclair

        Carla, I have been reusing the plastic containers (and even the plastic bags) available at the bulk food section of our co-op. We buy most of our food stuffs in bulk: flour, rice, beans, honey, coconut oil, nut butters. And, of course liquid laundry, dish and body soaps. It really makes a difference in the size of our ‘garbage.’

      2. cnchal

        > If I were able to bring my own, clean containers from home instead of using the plastic ones the store provides, wouldn’t that make sense?

        To yourself, yes. To everybody else, no. People can be slobs, and there is a certainty that a slob will contaminate a bunch of food unintentionally through stupidity and carelessness.

        1. polecat

          slobbishness, contamination, stupidity, carelessness ….

          “Life .. finds a way” ‘;]

      3. Oregoncharles

        That is exactly the regulation in Oregon, or at least in my area. The exception is anything refrigerated or hot – for those you have to use a new container (don’t ask me why, and in my experience that agency is an arrogant stone wall.)

        The reason I’m angry is that for years, our local co-op went considerably further; they sterilized donated used containers (most of which can be reused for years) and put them out for people to use in the bulk department. Very handy, saves the store a bit of money, and keeps some containers out of the waste stream.

        It’s an excellent model, and I think that’s why the state shut it down last year, and refused to offer any explanation. First I tried writing to them; stone wall. The arrogance from these “public servants” was breathtaking. So I circulated a petition asking for a change of policy, and recently submitted it to the Governor (a supposed progressive) and the relevant bureaucrats, with 156 signatures. So far, utter silence. It goes to the media next, and my state legislators.

        So this is what we’re up against: not only big business that doesn’t care, but a corrupt state bureaucracy – even in deep-blue Oregon.

    2. vlade

      IIRC, Ecover, a Belgian manufacturer of eco-detergents, encouraged the smaller shops that sold it to be able to sell it into reusable containers by volume. The problem was that few small stores had the space and ability to do so.

      1. polecat

        It’s EASY to make one’s own laundry soap .. very cheaply compared to the commercial stuff.

        just sayin ..

      2. PlutoniumKun

        One nice thing about the craft been revolution is the return of reusable beer jugs, my local pub now allows you to fill up with draft and take it home. Its great when you have guests and don’t want a pile of cans or bottles to deal with.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          By ‘jug’, I meant ‘growler’, I’d forgotten the proper name for them….

      3. David

        In France at least all supermarkets sell refill packs for soaps and detergents. Mind you they also sell refill packs for wine but that’s another issue. I

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a typical US supermarket, the area for the produce and meat section is maybe 20 to 30% of the square footage, the rest is filled with packaged items.

      Take for example, the section for spaghetti sauce. People used to make it fresh at hom. Now, you buy it or chicken noodle soap ready to use.

      Another example – milk. It used to be delivered in glass jars to your house, with used oned picked up to be reused.

      Shaving. What about it? Well, it used to be a durable blade and shaving soap in the 19th century.

      Not that far back, say, even in the 50’s, as a kid, you could go to a grocery store, and buy cookies from a jar, without any packaing. The shop owner or clerk would take them from a glass jar with his/her hand and place them in your hand(s). Today, it would be nicely wrapped. And that grocery shop had long been driven out of business, and the clerk unemployed.

      In any case, I believe when we address our diet issue, and the lack of leisure time issue, the packaging issue will be addressed largely.

      1. crittermom

        “Now, you buy it or chicken noodle soap ready to use.”

        Hmm… wouldn’t that result in making you walking bear bait?

        Sorry. I know it was a typo, but couldn’t resist. ;-)

      2. Procopius

        When I went through Army basic training in 1965 we were required to buy a shaving brush. I never knew what it was supposed to be used for, and it’s only a couple of years ago I looked up YouTube videos on how to make a lather with one. Had to have it for inspection, though.

    4. marieann

      Our Bulk Barn in Canada allows customers to bring their reusable containers. They have to be checked for cleanliness every time you shop which can increase shopping time waiting for a cashier to check and weigh your jars. However I give them as much of my business as possible because I believe in this policy.
      I seldom see anyone else use containers so I don’t know how successful their new policy is.

      They basically only have dry goods so I still have to buy stuff in plastic packages……then I usually buy the biggest size available.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Man dies on plane after ingesting 246 cocaine bags”

    The guy was so high that the plane landed three hours before he did.

  7. zagonostra

    >Class Warfare

    I remember walking past a Plasma center in Ft. Lauderdale early Christmas eve and seeing a long line queuing up for the doors to open and thinking that some of these folks might be parents looking for some cash to buy presents for their kids…

    Roughly 70 to 80 percent of global plasma supply is provided by paid donors from the United States, which, unlike the United Kingdom and other developed nations, does not ban the practice of paying donors for their blood. The United States also has fewer restrictions on how often someone can donate plasma, with donors permitted to undergo the process twice a week, every week, all year long…

    A 2018 study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that states with a higher number of plasma donation centers were also more likely to have a higher population of low-income and minimum-wage workers.

    1. Jeotsu

      I’m a plasma donor here in NZ, and they’re very proud that all plasma used in-country is from local donors. (The plasma is shipped to Australia for processing, but is kept separate from the Aussie supply chain.) There is great concern about keeping the plasma as clean and pure as possible. With paid donors I see the huge danger that many people would feel a financial pressure to lie about risk factors that might otherwise exclude them from donating. Considering plasma is often administered to very ill, immune-compromised people it is really important to keep it as clean as possible.

      Sometimes at the donor center they can even tell me (speaking generally, without disclosing privacy) who will be getting my plasma. When donating FFP (Fresh Frozen Plasma) sometimes it is going into a (very ill) patient the next morning. And that does make the time and effort feel very worth while.

      1. zagonostra

        Jeotsu, I think there is a big difference between your altruistic impulse and the people I saw who, based on my observation, defective though it may have been, were poorly dressed, had a vacant look in their eyes that spoke of desperation…I also had a queasy feeling brought about by a plastic nativity scene that was grey from the soot in the air at the church across the street….it all seemed surreal.

  8. Bugs Bunny

    Re the US Navy pilots seeing UFOs:

    Wouldn’t the best place on the Earth to build an alien base be… the bottom of the ocean?

      1. Wukchumni

        The only UFO’ish thing i’ve ever encountered was after 3 friends and I had climbed Black Kaweah, we’d made our way up to a nice broad ledge a thousand feet below the summit of Eagle Scout Peak and called it a day, our view being Black Kaweah and the Kaweah Range of peaks across the way from us, once thought to be the crest of the Sierra by early glimpsers from afar, but short by 500 feet, sorry pile of falling apart boulders on high, you get a consolation prize and thanks for playing.

        We were sitting in our Thermarest trekker-chairs (the best 10 ounces of added weight to consider lugging along, it takes about 30 seconds to turn your sleeping pad into a comfy chair-presto!) and the Kaweahs lit up red for 3 or 4 seconds and we were all watching it happen, and then it was gone.

        Got back to the backcountry permit station in the frontcountry and talked to a friend that was a ranger there, and told him what we saw, and some had seen it there @ Lodgepole, but it happened @ 10:10 pm, so you had to be up at a late hour.

        Fast forward a few weeks later, and i’m getting a wilderness permit for another trip, and the same ranger shows me a pamphlet about 10 pages long titled “An Incident At Moose Lake” that was an account of a father & son from 1955, who had encountered somebody that while they looked human and all, this person didn’t seem to know how to act as a human as far as they were concerned, and was dressed in street clothes nearly 10 miles into the backcountry, with no backpack or gear.

        I’ve searched on the internet for years trying to find said pamphlet, but to no avail.

        Moose Lake has a history of weird stuff happening there, and looks tilted from afar when glimpsed from the tablelands, and that ain’t possible.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its not connected with what you describe, but the oddest thing I saw was while watching the sky darken and stars come out while sitting on a sand dune in an Asian desert – I’d never seen a sky so clear (city boy here). The stars appeared to start moving independently of themselves – I was aware this was a well known optical illusion caused by the eye focusing on a distant object and slight muscular movements within the eye causing other objects to appear to move independently. Even though I knew at the time it was an optical illusion it seemed weirdly real to me.

          On the one occasion I went deep into the back country for days alone I found that my senses were greatly heightened at night – I had never experienced such an awareness of sounds and movements (but then again, I’d never been in bear country before). I’m told that fasting while doing it can have an even more intense impact (I was told that some hunters fast while hunting for precisely this reason – it heightens their senses). I can well imagine the brain going into overdrive in circumstances like that.

          1. Wukchumni

            We have very reliable dark skies overhead every night, and i’m curious what the new moon will bring with Elon gated communities passing by?

            You aren’t fasting on a 9 nine day backpack trip, but you’re probably only consuming 1,000 calories per day, you can’t carry enough-nor do you want to be burdened with more straws on your donkey, and i’ll admit to having food fetishes late in the trip, eager for a restaurant meal upon exit. A friend always insists on a root beer float after a walk, tradition.

            There’s lions & bears oh, deer & squirrel, marmots too, but nothing that will harm you, at most they want stuff that smells, and i’ve never heard of a mountain lion pulling out a car window or shaking down a backpack, and bears are manageable. We always used to hang our food and smelly items utilizing the counter-balance method, and I never once have had food pinched, and that’s all they’re after, and nowadays bear canisters are required and they add another nearly 3 pounds of weight and the bulkiest item in your pack as an added bonus. They hold around 5 days of food, so we’ll often bearbag about the half the time out on a longer trip, still.

            It’s an inexact science the art of the food hang, looking for just the right dead branch high up enough and extending into winnowing widths on one end, and if there are other limbs around, well that makes it trickier. You take one end of the 50 feet of parachute cord you brought, find a rock of size-but not too big that you can tie in a knot, line up the p-cord behind you so it goes unimpeded over that branch.

            You might get lucky or have the perfect hanging tree nearby with a first toss, sometimes a combination of waiting until its almost dark to make the hang and/or liquor can cause you to need a dozen attempts over 10 minutes until making good. That’s the hardest part, the rest is just rote.


            1. PlutoniumKun

              I solo cycled along the Great Divide trail, faithfully hanging up my food and toothpaste on trees far from my tent every night when in bear country.

              I also faithfully washed my cycling shorts every night and hung them to dry over my tent. It was only when I finished my trip that I discovered that the detergent I used was heavy in citronella, which is apparently a major turn on for Grizzlies.

            2. Procopius

              I hadn’t seen stars for years until a month or two ago, we had a very widespread power outage that lasted nearly an hour. What a pitiful try compared to the winter night I was hitch-hiking from East Lansing, MI, to visit my sister at UofM in Ann Arbor. I was dropped off at a cross-roads miles from any town, and because of the cold the humidity was low. Glorious.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          Awesome story Wuk. I remember hiking the Sierras back in the 70s-80s with my uncle & cousin and at the ranger posts there were all sorts of odd xeroxed pamphlets about trails, things, whatnot on colored paper that have since disappeared from the records of history. I imagine that we’ll never see those days again.

          1. Wukchumni

            A friend was a backcountry ranger @ Bearpaw Meadow for about 15 years, 11 miles back on the High Sierra Trail.

            She’s got the stories, one time she showed me belted 50 caliber machine gun bullets, a belt of around 50 bullets, that came from a fighter plane on the day it rained P-40’s on Sequoia-Kings Canyon in 1941, when in inclement weather, 5 planes crashed, the bullets from this one, came a bit off-trail in Deadman Canyon, found by a boy scout troop.

            On October 24, 1941, 19 Curtis P-40 Hawks of the 57th Pursuit Group left March Field at Riverside, California, to fly to McClelland Field, in Sacramento, California. A short time after takeoff, the aircraft encountered heavy overcast conditions, and many of the aircraft became separated. Four planes went down in the area of Kings Canyon, resulting in one pilot being killed, and three pilots parachuting to safety. First Lieutenant Richard N. Long was killed in a crash near South Guard Lake. (NPS)

            Once upon a time from the 1930’s to 1960’s, most everything in the backcountry was connected by phone line which ran along the trails, and was all pulled out so you’d have no idea it ever existed.

    1. polecat

      It’s just those HyperPutinites from wayouttasiberiaspace …
      But then the Rookies were Always considered A • L • I • E • N by Western Phobics

    2. JCC

      With a little luck one of them may have Michael Rennie and Gort as passengers.

      This, combined with The Atlantic’s posting of The Atomic Soldiers has made for an interesting morning.

      1. Wukchumni

        What if the spacejourners took a liking to our fair orb and decided to to EarthBnB the planet?

        Good luck trying to elbow out a pushy Venusian in getting that selfie in a place they heard about on the galaxynet.

    3. LifelongLib

      It seems like by “sightings” the articles actually mean radar contacts. The fact that these started occurring after the switch to a new radar system makes me think they’re more likely the result of some equipment anomaly than aliens. What is this new system doing that other radar systems don’t?

      1. Stadist

        While I don’t like to entertain UFO conspiracy theories, it would make sense at some level for aliens to intervene if they notice we are destroying our planet.

  9. Vic Newsome

    Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill.

    I find it outrageous that Robert Mueller may be balking at testifying before Congress. The country deserves to understand his thinking and his process in creating the report, if only given the complexity of the report’s reasoning.

    By my estimation, it took the top lawyers and legal commentators in this country nearly a week to parse the dense legal reasoning in the report to come to a rough consensus that Mueller, having concluded he could not indict Trump, also determined that it would be wrong to leave a cloud over Trump’s head that he would have no mechanism to refute. That sounds noble and proper, except for the slight complication that the report then goes into deep, rich detail on many instances of obstructive behavior, the effect of which was to create a thick bank of clouds over Trump’s head.

    This in turn begs the question of the intended audience for this report. There was never a certain path for this report to make it to Congress. If Mueller was writing for Congress, it was a risky strategy. If he was writing for Barr, he should have seen that without his recommendation, it would be very easy to toss the report into a file cabinet, never to be seen again.

    Finally, and perhaps most important, if Mueller felt he could never indict Trump, regardless of what he found, this fact should have been obvious in the first few weeks on the job. Instead, he ran for two years without signaling to anyone this was the likely outcome.

    Bob Muller increasingly looks to me like another Jim Comey: so consumed with doing “the right thing” that he twisted himself into a pretzel and created an outcome that may well have been the opposite of what he hoped and that left pretty much all parties unsatisfied.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Robert Mueller is probably worried that he may have to swap his business suit for an orange suit if he was forced to give his testimony under oath. For two years he did his kabuki investigation which caused enormous damage to the American political landscape along with America’s international relations – all to chase a unicorn that never existed.
      Having finally come up with zip, he tried to nonetheless foul things up further by charging Trump with a cover up of something that never existed in the first place. Some of the stuff that went on is covered in the following article-

      Any honest investigation would have showed that this whole thing started with Hilary’s campaign and that is where this whole thing started. She actually said so in her book “Shattered” so it is no secret. Meuller definitely belongs at Club Fed.

    2. Geo

      Mueller lied about WMDs in Iraq and defended domestic spying. He is like Comey. They’re both manipulators whose industry profits off of instability and fear. By that measure he’s done a great job.

      Any faith that what Mueller was up to had anything to do with justice or whatever by anyone hoping he’d take down a president who is doing the bidding of the MIC and giving billionaires massive tax breaks was sadly misplaced. If anything his job was to threaten Trump into playing ball. He got rid of the Bannons (libertarians) and replaced them with Boltons (neocons).

      Just my tinfoil hat analysis. :)

  10. Henry Moon Pie`

    Ol’ man River is full of antibiotics–

    What next? The Guardian article is focused on the threat of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics, but there is another issue. All multi-celled life on Earth evolved in an environment filled with bacteria. Natural selection preferred those organisms that could utilize the way that bacteria are little chemical factories, making substances that are hard for living things to use directly and transforming them into products that are easily digestible. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what bacteria do for us.

    So are these antibiotics in rivers doing the same sort of thing that antibiotics do to our guts when we take them? If so, we’re changing the environment for all the creatures in that river in ways that we can hardly imagine, and I doubt if dumping truckloads of yogurt into the Mississippi will fix it.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Connect that dot with global warming, and I think less consumption and more doing-nothing is the way to go.

      We can’t, say, go back to 100% the way we lived in the 19th century, but we can try to find out h0w much of that is possible, and then, look at life in the 18th century, and the 17th century etc.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Atomic Veterans Were Silenced for 50 Years. Now, They’re Talking.”

    There was a film made some time ago which was about these soldiers and was called “Nightbreaker” aka “Advance To Ground Zero”-

    If you want to see the real deal, there is silent colour footage which includes US soldiers advancing to the base of the atomic cloud which is frightening when you think about it-

    Over the years, I have wondered if one of the main points of these tests was to have a very large sample size of Americans – some 400,000 – that, unlike the Japanese, could be followed medically over the years through the VA records to see what the long term effects of radiation poisoning were and if the US could survive a nuclear war as a result.

    1. Savedbyirony

      If he were still alive to do it, John Smitherman (see Stud Terkel’s The Good War) would beg to differ that soldiers and sailors exposed to atomic tests are just now speaking out. I read that oral history way back in the eighties right after it was published and Smitherman’s interview, which comes very late in the book, was one of the most moving of all the oral accounts to me.

  12. JohnnyGL

    Just as predicted by everyone on this site….Biden’s a dumpster fire. Trump will peel off more than a few black voters if Biden’s the nominee.

    it’s a perfect attack for him….because what does Biden do?
    1) Biden defends his crime bill
    Trump doubles down and says to black voters, “that’s the guy that locked up your uncle, cousin, etc”
    2) Biden backs off from the crime bill (he won’t)
    Trump says, “look at this weak flip-flopper who won’t even stand by his record”

    I’m calling it, now. If Biden’s the nominee, Trump holds the electoral map from 2016 and swings VA, NH and MN over to his side. And STILL loses popular vote by 500K-1M. ?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is the plan in that case?

      Work with Trump wherever and whenever possible?

      More resistance?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe some kind of citizenship or permanent residency exchange program.

          “I will give my US citizenship for your Venezuelan/Costa Rican/Cuban one.”

        2. JohnnyGL

          Not sure that’s a panacea….Bolsonaro’s way worse than Trump.

          Argentina looks set to swing back left.

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Shits just starting to get interesting and you wanna run?


          Time to start filling in the dots for the STEM grads.

    2. jrs

      oh yea people are just going to vote for an open r@c1st. Uh no. They aren’t.

      Of course they might NOT vote for Biden either, and then you have a low turnout problem and that doesn’t help the Dems any either.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Democracy vs. The Putin-Nazis”

    Saw an example of this on TV tonight which was about “Sweden’s Putin Preppers”. Preppers are ok but Sweden has used them to get people frightened of Russia and Putin. Sweden doesn’t even share a border with Russia. They had some guy on talking about what the Russians were doing & how it was a threat and it was the straight neocon line. Trouble is they are teaching young kids in school this and the kids are thinking that they will have to fight Russia and to trust in the authorities. The government even issued a booklet called “If Crisis or War Comes” to get people even more worried. I do not know if this is all to condition the people to want to go onto NATO or to shift the political opinion to the right to help those parties stay in power but the effect is the same –

    1. JBird4049

      There’s no point in winning the Oval Office if team dem won’t let him govern.

      Think of the long game. Just having an honest by God leftist, even a moderate one like Sanders, for the first time in fifty years would be shock; he would have very real and enthusiastic support even from many who think of themselves as conservative.

      President Trump is in office because he actually mentioned the real concerns of the bottom 80% and plus a need to say screw you to TPTB. A President Sanders would be the same only louder.

      If you look at FDR during the Great Depression he did not have the support of the Supreme Court and much of Congress; there was probably even a coup attempted; however he used the threat of the then ongoing economic collapse, the active and growing communist, socialist, and later fascist parties as well as the very real chance of civil war/unrest to get cooperation from the wealthy and from corporations. Give me some real and effective concessions or face the mob. Your choice. They choose him although he did have to threaten to pack the Supreme Court and some elements of Social Security was blocked especially from farm workers and domestic help (generally blacks) by Southern politicians.

      So I guess the same deal making would be attempted here. However, there is no guarantee of success. The Powers That Be now includes the international corporations, the wealthy 0.01%, the 9.9% of the Meritocracy, the growing Security State, against the growing mainstream reformist movement across the entire political spectrum, the small number of elites and 10% among them, the growing leftist movement including the DSA, as well as the growing and increasingly armed leftist and alt-right groups whose loyalties are unknown for now.

      In total numbers and maybe even in raw political power the reformers probably are stronger than the current regime, but the regime has the government and is better organized; will the reformers hang together or separately, will somebodies start shooting or bombing, what will happen? Stay tuned to find out.

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    Retired Colonel Harry Stubbs (Better known as author Hal Clement) once casually dropped the fact that he was in a trench a few thousand yards from a nuclear detonation on a panel at a science fiction convention.

    Needless to say, this then became the main topic of conversation.

  15. dcblogger

    I am sure that Yves has explained this 10 million times, but why is it economic to keep the foreclosed homes off the market. There are now enough vacant homes to house every homeless person. Homes that were foreclosed on in 2008 still remain vacant. Why? There has got to be an explanation, would appreciate a link.

    1. Wukchumni

      I agree, but can we also consider lowering the bar of aspirations by calling the unfortunate living rough right next to us:


      1. Wukchumni

        I linked something from San Diego yesterday, and the only avenue that cities have in their employ to evict the homeless, is to deny those on the precipice of poor living in their vehicles, the right to park overnight.

        There’s a few sankuary city parking lots, gulagarages

        1. The Rev Kev

          And there it is. The same cities that boast about being sanctuary cities for emigrants, just to make a political statement against Trump, are the very same ones denying sanctuary to their own citizens just because they can.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ll offer an anecdote from my neighborhood as illustrative even it is isn’t necessarily a typical situation.

      An old couple took out a reverse mortgage on a two-family house three doors down from us before the housing bubble burst. They didn’t keep up the payments, and the bank foreclosed. They died before the bank completed the foreclosure.

      Title is in the name of the deceased couple. No one pays taxes on it. No one looks after it.

      The house is now worth far less than even the original amount of the reverse mortgage, much less with fees and interest added.

      The only solution in our area is for the taxing authority to foreclose on the house for unpaid taxes and then sell or give it to someone to rehab. That would wipe out the bank and all other claimants under state law. The taxing authority will not retrieve the taxes owed either in all likelihood.

      The only entities who are around to push this forward are the neighbors and perhaps the local community development corporation. This Rust Belt area has far too many vacant homes, and the demolition process takes 5-10 years to complete (We finally managed to have the house next door to us demolished last summer after 5 years of working on it.)

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Exactly. Between empty foreclosures, illegal hotels (aka Airbnb rentals), 2nd homes, etc., we have an enormous amount of property in this country that no one lives in and yet prices are sky high once again.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Prices are sky high because those very same properties are being deliberately being kept off the market i.e. supply is being throttled. Didn’t the banks buy up most of those properties after people were throw out of them after the ’08 crash and so would own them?

          1. JBird4049

            Investors did most of the buying although I suspect that they were planning on making money sooner.

            There is something like ten thousand unoccupied homes or apartments in San Francisco outside of the usual churn of selling/renting/buying/remodeling that always exist. Taxes and enforced use requirements could be used to get that housing back into the market.

            A commission could be set up to fast track eminent domain and development using prefabricated apartment units and even entire houses. There are many talented architects and a number of manufacturers of various kinds of prefabricated buildings.

            Heck, portapotties, mobile showers, actual food lines, and a few large warehouses or empty buildings could help hundreds if not thousands of people in San Francisco (and the eight other Bay Area counties. But somehow it is better to have men, women, and children suffer because?

    3. Jeff

      I was wondering along similar lines. Many of these properties were foreclosed on illegally, with no proper chain of title (ie the current owner cannot prove legal ownership of the property). I was wondering what happened to all these places. I suspect that as you cannot prove you are the owner of the place, you cannot resell it (or risk trying it), and those places remain in neverland.

    4. Brian (another one they call)

      I weigh in because this is a tiny reality I know. I would opine that Banks pay the taxes on these unoccupied homes, using money they print without consequence, giving it to your local tax collector to maintain the image of calm. All city/county/state governments are subject to radical shock if property tax revenue were to fall suddenly. Any break between the 2008 crisis and now in these payments and the economic system would likely have collapsed. The percentage of lost property tax revenue during the foreclosure crisis would have made any government very nervous, and perception of that trouble by the citizenry might have been catastrophic. The citizenry largely said; “first they came for my neighbor”………..
      A second factor is that post foreclosure, a very high percentage of the paperwork documenting home ownership by and for banks against the property had to be created out of thin air. It is far easier to gain title to a property when the court is assisting you to foreclose and evict the rightful owner knowing that the bank will still pay them. If you don’t believe your country would have done this, amyl nitrate might be indicated.
      I know these things to be self evident, for I lived it. Right down to the forged and fake promissory note made to make a claim against my home. It was one of several different copies offered by banks. The bank was said to be the author of the bills regarding title in our state that were made law by our judiciary. They wrote the law that allowed them to steal our homes. Good luck and good morning.

      1. The Rev Kev

        So sorry to hear what happened to you. When I first read about MERS I could not believe that the banks could be allowed to commit such outright criminality but when during those millions of foreclosures, the banks would have phony documentation written up to seize those houses because there were no documents, that was the worst. And the courts would OK the whole thing no matter if there were flaws and blunders in these “documents’. Florida’s “rocket docket” was the most notorious but they were not alone. Fifteen years ago, who would have believed that such things wee possible?

    5. lordkoos

      It’s simply keeping real estate values artificially high so that the leeches/lenders don’t go broke.

    1. David

      Since you ask … The article isn’t bad, and some of the experts cited know what they are talking about, but you have to allow for a very strong ideological bias. For example saying that voting in the European elections means supporting Macron is just silly.
      The article is right that there is a lot going on under the surface and that the tensions that brought the GJ into existence haven’t gone away. The GJ are still there as well but their actions seem increasingly random and sometimes pointless. They descended on Reims in eastern France ten days ago and smashed up a local radio station for no reason that anyone could work out. This partly reflects the increasing presence of black blocs and other anarchist forces which the article avoids talking about.
      A lot of the original GJ are discouraged but have not changed their opinions. The general view among sympathetic commentators is that they have lost their way and risk becoming just a part of everyday life. I think it’s more than that in practice but it’s impossible to say how the situation will eventually play out. In any event Macron can be relied upon to do something stupid.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why the Global Billionaire Population Is Declining Barron’s. UserFriendly: “The real reason Trump is allowed to have his trade war is because his tax cut made north america the only region to increase how many billionaires it has while making less of them elsewhere.”


    If Trump is being allowed to have this trade war*, it would imply a unified front.

    I haven’t followed all the developments, but have any D candidates come out denouncing the trade war?

    On the other side of the ocean, Beijing projects unity, but I wonder if underneath, opinions differ over there.

    *though I am not sure if it has to do with this region increasing how many billionaires it has. Billionaires do not necessarily like to have more billionaires (increasing how many billionaires it has), but having more billionaires, even with decreaseing how many billionaires.

  17. Wukchumni

    Its entirely overcast so identification by sight is a no go, but by sound it’s F-35’s serenading above me for the last 10 minutes.

  18. crittermom

    >”Under the dome: Fears Pacific nuclear coffin leaking”

    This paragraph in the article stood out to me, leaving me confused:

    A 2013 inspection commissioned by the US government suggested radioactive fallout in the Enewetak lagoon sediment was already so high a catastrophic failure would not necessarily result in locals receiving increased dosages of radiation.

    What? So are they saying ‘No worries. You’ve already been cooked’?
    What am I missing?

    The article revealed other surprises, as well, that left me shaking my head.
    Worth a read.

    1. lordkoos

      I could be wrong, but I think that may pale compared to Fukushima, where they are dumping tons of radioactive water into the Pacific every single day.

  19. JacobiteInTraining

    Thanks for the kittens pic!

    Always a distinct weakness on my part, to see little kittens fuzzballing around, getting into mischief…pestering Ma, and just generally being their adorable little selves… :)

  20. Oregoncharles

    “The Atomic Soldiers: U.S. Veterans, Used as Guinea Pigs, Break the Silence ”

    The fate of those soldiers is the motivating secret of the movie “Mulholland Falls”, starring Nick Nolte. It was made in 1996, about the time the soldiers were released from their silence. At the time, I didn’t realize quite how subversive the film was, though I noticed that the federal government were depicted as thoroughly evil.

    And a further thought: this is an example of the kernel of truth behind every conspiracy theory: the powerful always have a lot to hide. That era is thick with examples, because it’s been long enough for a lot of the secrets to come out. And that was America’s Golden Age, as Gore Vidal said years ago. Those who refuse to accept the official story play a vital role – even if they’re often wrong.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Filling Europe’s top jobs just got trickier RTE”

    The numbers have yet to settle, but it looks like the Greens could be the kingmakers.

    A note: European Green parties are in two different EU Parliament alliances. The German Green Party and a couple of others form one, the one that gained, and the mainly Scandinavian Left-Greens are in the leftist grouping – which lost ground. The US and British parties are more like the Scandinavian ones.

  22. ewmayer

    “Trump’s wrecking ball assaults American government. Luckily, it is strongly built Robert Reich, Guardian (resilc)” — Robert Reich, pearl-clutching, fake-news-peddling* Clintonite Dem establishment weenie. Hey Bob, why not just come out and say “America is Already Great™”? Because for elite bubble dwellers like you, that is surely the case.

    * Unless by “strongly built” he means “our corporate/MIC overlords will save us from the Orange Satan’s assaults on our post-Constitutional kleptocracy”.

    1. MichaelSF

      My first thought when reading the above is that it was Trump’s wrecking ball that was strongly built, since it seems to be doing a good job.

  23. mrsyk

    From The Hill piece on Nevada Dem primary:

    “Meanwhile, a couple of dark horse candidates are looking to capitalize on the Nevada free-for-all.

    Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) have both moved into the state. Booker will make his third trip to Nevada next week and Harris just completed her fourth trip.”

    Maybe “long shot” would have been a better choice of words.

    1. Anon

      The author of that article is only marginally proficient with the state of Nevada; geographically and politically.

      For example, western Nevada is not the rural portion of the state, eastern Nevada (Ely, Pioche, Alamo, and the Schelle Creek Range) is. Reno/Sparks/Carson City (state Capital) are in the west (along with Lake Tahoe).

      Nevada has a tiny population (~1.7M) and most of it is concentrated in the southern portion of the state (Las Vegas, Clarke County). Native Americans make up an extremely small portion of the state population. Hispanics, however, are a growing force in the service workforce of both Reno (North) and Las Vegas. That is where Democrat political operatives will gain the most voter support.

      While the Governor’s Office has been occupied by a Republican since 2000, this year a Democrat won (by a scant 5%) over an actual bastard legacy Laxalt (who has never lived in the state). Things ARE changing in the Silver State.

  24. KnotRP

    So the security post….about GRINDR data….and the quote from Rod Hunter, an attorney for (milk and cookies came out of my nose!)….I am dying to know who arranged for this to be printed, and why. LOL

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