Links 5/29/19

SpaceX’s Starlink has a new foe: Astronomers Axios

High radiation levels found in giant clams near U.S. nuclear dump in Marshall Islands Los Angeles Times

Historic Flooding on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma and Arkansas Weather Underground

World Happiness Report 2019 (PDF) John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs


Brexit: John Bercow says MPs will get a say over no deal BBC

Jean-Claude Juncker again rules out Brexit renegotiation Politico

Conservative leadership hopefuls set to take part in TV debates on BBC and Sky News Independent

“Yellow Vest” Facebook group with 350,000 members frozen on European election day WSWS (JBird4049).

French Senate says Notre-Dame must be restored exactly how it was The Local. I don’t think the Senate has the last word, though.

How SYRIZA lost and New Democracy won MacroPolis


Aporkalypse now The Economist

Gangster Pork Monopolies in China Dim Sums

Pollution cover-ups exposed in Chinese provinces Nature

Trump administration underestimates China, experts warn Straits Times

Drones with Flamethrowers are Now a Thing Radii

See How Much You Know About Maritime Policy and Disputes Council on Foreign Relations

‘We don’t have a life here’: family of ‘Snowden refugees’ torn apart as Canada considers asylum request South China Morning Post

Philippine Supreme Court removes Duterte ‘enemy’ judge Reuters (PD: “This I think hasn’t been treated as a high profile story in the world media, but my friends in the ‘pines say this is essentially the start of a Duterte dictatorship — the Supreme Court was the last honest bulwark against absolute presidential power. Now it’s been neutralised.”)

Bello: Philippines in ‘brave new world’ of politics under Duterte The Rappler


Uruguay’s diplomat and banker named EU’s representative to help with the Venezuelan situation Merco Press. “Help with.”

Venezuela economy shrank 22.5% in Q3 2018 -central bank Reuters

The human cost of America’s “economic war” in Venezuela New Statesman

Venezuela Was Supposed to Be Easy Jacobin

A street dog leads a Venezuelan family to a new home in Colombia NBC. A heart-tugging story about a dog? This is what we’ve come to?

New Cold War

Tainted Russian oil threatens to pollute politics of gas FT

Putin’s Arctic Plans Are a Climate Change Bet Bloomberg

Major Russian Cities Need 100 Years to Reach Moscow’s Development Level, Study Says Moscow Times


Reflections on the President’s Delegation of Declassification Authority to the Attorney General Lawfare. Surely Madison would approve?

British ex-spy will not talk to U.S. prosecutor examining Trump probe origins: source Reuters. Lol.

Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism Counterpunch


Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump’s impeachment The Hill

Trump Transition

The Economic Effects of the 2017 Tax Revision: Preliminary Observations Congressional Research Service

Trump Undercuts Bolton on North Korea and Iran NYT. Because Bolton is a loser. Nobody could have predicted….

Savior of G.M. Lordstown Plant, Hailed by Trump, Is a Corporate Cipher NYT

Another GOP lawmaker blocks massive disaster aid package Politico

Trump climate adviser compared ‘demonization’ of carbon dioxide to Jews’ treatment under Hitler MarketWatch

Democrats in Disarray

Democratic hopes for climate policy may come down to this one weird Senate trick Vox. So wait for the aliens, then?

How Bernie Sanders Accidentally Built a Radical Movement The Intercept. La carrière est ouverte aux talents. Must read!

Health Care

Drug Makers’ Opioid Liability Tied to Untested Legal Theory Bloomberg

Ending HIV And Eliminating Hepatitis C: Unlikely Without Resolving America’s Opioid Epidemic Health Affairs

Lessons from Scott County — Progress or Paralysis on Harm Reduction? NEJM

Healthcare executives call for Stark law reform Modern Health. “The anti-kickback statute is meant to curb Medicare and Medicaid spending by prohibiting financial compensation for referrals. But it has impeded new payment models by limiting incentives used to reward progress.” Oh. “Progress.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

While you’re sleeping, your iPhone stays busy — snooping on you WaPo

Imperial Collapse Watch

America Adrift Center for American Progress. “When asked what the phrase ‘maintaining the liberal international order’ indicated to them, all but one of the participants in our focus groups drew a blank. Voters across educational lines simply did not understand what any of these phrases and ideas meant or implied.” Sounds like a funding pitch. Neera had better get the UAE on the blower.

Opinion: Once again, my sh*thead husband will be deployed for the birth of our child Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

Westside private school gave diplomas to nonstudents for a fee. Then came the college admissions scandal Los Angeles Times. These stories keep happening. I’m not sure that the professional classes have focused on the idea that credentials cannot be seen to have been obtained by corrupt means if they are to be of value and their bearers are to have authority (absent a Third World situation where credentials are a result of open clientelism, of course).

Facebook plans to launch ‘GlobalCoin’ currency in 2020 BBC. Bill Black: “The best way to rob a bank is to own one.”

Antidote du jour (Carey):

Carey writes from Los Osos, CA: “Heron in my side yard yesterday afternoon. I went outside to see better, and he/she let me hang out for twenty or so minutes. I love how they move so slowly, and they’re such graceful fliers, too!”

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.


  1. MK

    Beautiful bird. William Smith college has the Heron as it’s mascot. Any other schools have this wonderful mascot?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Schools like to pick fierce mascots – except in Oregon, where we have ducks and beavers. OSU has gone so far as to try to make their beaver look fierce.

      Of course, herons are pretty scary if you’re a fish. They also work the fields for mice, as that one was doing.

      We see them a lot because we’re in between two rivers. Just saw one go over, switching rivers.

      I had a close encounter one night, on the docks at Newport. There was a sudden very loud squawk and a thunderclap of outstretched wings, directly over our heads. We all ducked; we’d wakened a heron perched on one of the posts holding up the dock.

      1. MichaelSF

        Herons are very good at catching gophers too, we’ve seen them do that in GG Park.

  2. Chris Cosmos

    I believe, from my reading, my own encounters with the whole system of secrecy, that secrecy in the security services is waaaay overdone at minimum and at maximum the chief reason we (USA-ans) are no longer a constitutional republic with democratic institutions but, rather, an Empire ruled largely by the security services who suffer Presidents but generally have their own agendas and policies. Game theory suggests that organizations who have the advantage of secrecy, as the CIA has had in spades, tend to win out in competition with organizations that do not over the many iterations this game has been played since 1947. The Pentagon has also had this advantage and thus can continue to get massive funding (some of which actually goes to various intel organizations including CIA front offices within the Pentagon) and thus can “lose” $21 trillion with ease and the media, often deeply riddled with intel operatives (Operation Mockingbird and so on), simply shrugs its collective shoulders while giving the fantasy of “Russian collusion” a story invented by, it seems, a British intel officer (British intel and several other services are tightly integrated with US intel) or ex-officer (who knows) under the command, again, it appears, of the Clinton campaign made up a series of fictions about Trump.

    This is a clear case of who has the ultimate power the POTUS or the security services. Can a President with his AG penetrate the secret world that has remained, except for revelations of the Church Committee and a few little pictures we get from former officers, occult to our eyes and perhaps most President’s eyes? We are now getting to the meat of the problem we face in the United States–where is the power, who has it? If a DCI (Brennan) have the power to bring down a President along with his fellow conspirators? Or is all that just a evidence-free conspiracy theory? On the surface taking all the facts there is certainly a valid reason for believing there was a conspiracy that describes the lineaments of an arguable if ad hoc “deep state” in operation that includes “journalists” who, I believe, mainly knew the stories about Russiagate were inaccurate at best just like I know for a fact that most journalists knew that all the Iraq arguments for war were false or at least suspected they were.

    If Trump has the courage, and I doubt he or anyone around him including Barr has the courage we could start the Great Unraveling and change the course of history.

    1. zagonostra

      The “Great Unraveling” requires that enough people have stopped drinking the cool-aid, or from the river Lethe, that “occludes” the vision from the nefarious underworld of the “deep state” and unplug from the non-reality of digitized images and sounds…this condition seems doubtful to me based on my interaction with most people I come into direct contact with.

    2. chuck roast

      I just got a notice that CrowdStrike is floating an IPO for 18M common shares @ around $20/per. Is this a great country or what!

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Wow interesting analysis.

      So the best we could hope for is a benign CIA/FBI that is willing to suffer a president that is not a complete corporo-fascist.

      But I’ve always believed that The Crisis is fundamentally one of character. Or a complete lack thereof.

      “Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth of noble natures…” John Keats

      Yes indeed an inhuman dearth of noble natures…from Obama to Hilary to Trump to Brennan and Clapper et al, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Jamie Dimon. What a crop of narrow narcissists who have utterly forgotten the very concept of the public good.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘So the best we could hope for is a benign CIA/FBI’

        Well since the fourth estate is no longer doing their job, I guess that the intelligence services would like the job.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Yeats this time:

            “the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of a passionate intensity”

  3. BobW

    Arkansas River flooding: the local Ft. Smith tv weatherman reports that water will remain at record flood levels for about a week.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Hopefully the ORCS can handle all this water. If not, mayb we could have two Mississippi Rivers in Louisiana!

    2. Eureka Springs

      What a lot of water on a massive river. I’m wondering about AR Nuclear One, particularly the waste stored there on Lake Dardanelle /AR river. Piling up for some 45 years now.

      1. Bernalkid

        Lot of “tinfoil” types speculating about problems at Oroville Dam which required an emergency rebuild of the main spillway as it failed. Don’t know what to make of it, but a lot of technology is aging out, to be sure. This is Cali and worst case failure would impact the California central valley.

        1. William Trevathan

          In the last two days, I have crossed over the Orion, the Big Muddy, the Arkansas (at Little Rock), the Red, and the San Jac. They are all outside their banks, but the only one that impresses is the Big Muddy. That is a river, and it is looking big and ugly. In Oklahoma, they call the Arkansaw the Arkansas.

  4. Summer

    Re: Facebook / Currency

    “The project will see it join forces with banks and brokers that will enable people to change dollars and other international currencies into its digital coins.
    A small group of co-founders are expected to launch the Swiss-based association in the coming weeks.”

    There have to be people in jail for money laundering asking, “Why am I in jail?”

    “Rules-based” order my a**.

    Why even stomach the govts hysteria over China or any other country playing by the “rules,” when the USA or the West pulls whatever, whenever out of its butt?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And they’re calling it Project Libra. I wonder in whose favor the scales will be tipped?

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Comparing something to the persecution of Jews is fashionable this spring. My old school’s headmaster did it recently in the Times, as per Unlike his predecessors, Wallersteiner comes from and enjoys being part of the Metropolitan elite and being in the public eye.

    With regard to Facebook freezing the Yellow Vests online, the firm sponsors content in some big UK newspapers, mainly local news that are ignored by and / or no longer worth the (commercial) while of the outlet. There’s no evidence of exercising editorial control yet.

    Another of the FANG stocks, readers can guess which one, also sponsors content at other outlets, but exercises editorial control. There are no formal meetings to discuss editorial policy, content etc., especially as neither party wants to let on what really happens, but the FANG gets to see the output in good time and has direct access to the reporter and his / her supervisor and can get the draft changed. The FANG markets itself as a sort of a gatekeeper and manager of a client’s public profile.

    Neither FANG is interested in legacy presses, but can still access and control such outlets.

    The child of a friend / colleague is a journalist and returned to the daily red top that has an agreement with Facebook after the other FANG spiked two of her reports at and Matt Hancock tried to get her fired from her evening beat.

  6. Svante

    Dog story: Mark Penn DENIES RussiaRussiaRussiaGate. A-lotta-whole-buncha Syria/nerve gas tropes, again quietly debunked, Off-guardian DoS and several others, join des gilets Jaunes in virtual limbo. But, now we’ll all hear family members sobbing over how the brave, resourceful, pooch rescues folks from godless oil hoarding Socialist tyranny?

    1. Darius

      The Jacobin article makes clear that Venezuela isn’t just about oil. There’s a strong element of irrational motivations. Masculine panic. The desire to inflict pain. The things that motivate some to become cops. It’s tolerated, even encouraged, because it serves empire. People like Pompeo go to great lengths to twist reality in pursuit of their pet hobbyhorses. Sanctions killing 40,000 is a feature not a bug.

      1. Olga

        It is not that hard to understand that Venezuela is not just about oil. It is – most of all – about maintaining hegemoney (and yes, the misspelling was not intentional – but, hey, it kinda fits). The oil is just icing on the cake (even if not particularly appetizing). In that context, US actions are not really irrational – crazy yes, but not irrational. (I think I woke up today with a heightened sense of the absurd.)
        Repeat after me: must save empire, must save empire, must save, must, must, must!

      2. Svante

        Well: oil, hegemony, oil, bauxite, oil, chemicals, oil, testosterone poisoning, oil… I was in Puerto Ordaz for Phillips as we were pulling this shit on Hugo Chavez. A Mexican company bought a Pilger mill, Mussolini built in 1927. Kids in US BDUs dangling Galil rifles into the car’s windows. We need their crude to sell our silly fracked oil. It’s them or Iran. Personally, I’d avoid military enlistment, just now?

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        What has always separated Iraq and Libya from Syria and Iran was the former were easy and the latter are much more difficult. “Because we can” is a driving force of the thugs who occupy U.S. foreign policy positions. With Venezuela, the expectation was the military would do the heavy lifting or the Colombians, not the U.S., if any work needed to be done, and now Greedo appears to have disappeared down the memory hole so shortly after the ilk of Rufio and Donna Shalala were beating the war drums.

        1. Svante

          We’d just been discussing the price difference between Papaver bracteatum (Iranian: formerly used in opoid production) & Papaver somniferum (why so many foreign kids die in Afghanistan). I wonder what’s going on with the gas pipelines across Syria and the fracking off the coast of Gaza? No news. So odd?

  7. Wukchumni

    Lassie Flee Home

    ¡Lassie!, Go find us a country with a stable currency & economy-now at peace after a long civil war

    A street dog leads a Venezuelan family to a new home in Colombia NBC. A heart-tugging story about a dog? This is what we’ve come to?

      1. Wukchumni

        You can’t go there. It’d be akin to eating the Saint Bernard that came to save you, washed down with a hearty red from the cask it used to have around it’s neck.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Geesus. I thought i was dark lol

          ‘Member “Demolition Man?” Stallone eats a Rat Burger and says its delicious. Im pretty sure i ate dog/cat at this local Metairie Chinese Buffet called Mandarin House…

          1. The Rev Kev

            My wife use to love the chicken served in a Chinese restaurant a long time ago. That is, until she discovered that these chickens went woof and meow when living.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Nope. The health department shut down that place after an inspection of their freezers, Hint – there were no chickens in those freezers. And people had noticed that dogs had gone missing over the months in the area. This was in western Sydney back in the early 90s. A bit rough that on the dogs.

                1. Procopius

                  There are people here in Thailand who run puppy mills to produce the young dogs that make the best eating, for export to the Chinese market (well, most of them, anyway). There is an old Chinese proverb, probably not from Confucius, “After the hunt is over, the dogs are eaten.” Meaning is if you’re a low-level minion don’t believe you’re secure just because your party won. As Michael Cohn found out.

          1. JBird4049

            In some of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions I have read, what really made the explorers and their crews unhappy was killing their sled dogs. The hunger, the misery, sometimes being lost months all was bad, but I got the feeling that the dogs being shot was a very remembered low point.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Neoliberalism everywhere you look. Lassie turned a destitute Venezuelan family into Colombian entrepreneurs –

      …and they started a business selling cheese sticks on the street.

      No word on the current market cap yet – I’m guessing that will be in the feel good sequel.

      1. lambert strether

        And next they “learned to code” and wrote an app for cheese sticks on demand and then they moved to Miami.

  8. johnnygl

    When asked what the phrase ‘maintaining the liberal international order’ indicated to them

    *raises hand* oh, oh, i know that one!!!!

    It means keeping the status quo in international affairs as approved by the dc imperial blob!!!

    Is CAP trying to pretend it means something else?!?!!!

    1. jef

      It means keeping the world safe for capitalism and a particular kind of capitalism at that.

  9. Charles 2

    Astronomers have it backward IMO : SpaceX being successful with Starlink means that SpaceX has money to develop cheap rockets. Cheap rockets means cheap instrumentation in space, and capacity to upgrade and repair in situ.
    Additionally, ground based professional astronomy is mostly shooting at very narrow parts of the sky with little chance of having a satellite in the way.
    Last but not least, astronomers use adaptive optics, which is moving mirrors to cancel scattering from the atmosphere. To know how to compensate, they use the signal of a bright star nearby where they shoot. When there are no bright stars in the vincinity (again, they shoot a very narrow area of the sky), they even shoot a laser in the sky to get reflection from it ! Ironically, one could imagine Starlink satellites reflection from the Sun used for this.
    I admit it bad for amateur astronomers though, and it is so fun to do some Musk bashing from our sofas !

    1. Plenue

      SpaceX is a glorified contractor. I would rather we just gave NASA more public money to hire back the engineers and develop better rockets themselves.

      1. Harrold

        SpaceX is a private company.

        They develop their own rockets. The Falcon 1 was the first privately funded liquid-fueled rocket to ever reach orbit.

        You might be confusing them with United Launch Alliance, which is a joint operation between Boeing & Lockheed Martin. They held an official government monopoly, even though SpaceX was 50% cheaper.

        1. Plenue

          SpaceX barely turns a profit and is kept afloat with government contracts. I reiterate: they’re a glorified contractor.

      2. Oh

        I’ll bet money is not the reason they outsource to SpaceX or others. It probably costs less to have in house expertise but neo-libs and neo-cons won’t allow it.

    2. ChuckO

      It’s bad for radio astronomy because of the radio frequencies emitted by the Starlink satellites. When the system is fully deployed, there won’t be any open spots in the sky in which to do radio astronomy.

      1. Duck1

        I did an admittedly cursory search about this yesterday and it seemed that the approval for the project came from the FCC and and one of the stick/carrots was beginning the launch cycle within a time window. I think we are talking 12k of these jabonies and FCC parcels out the commons?

    3. lambert strether

      > bad for amateur astronomers though

      Nice try. Everybody I’ve quoted on this is a professional astronomer.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Not seeing anything conclusive with regard to whether any hair-sniffing took place. :)

        I think the hair-sniff is the breaking point. :)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think there is enough on the policy front to criticize Biden, that this could be just a distraction, in so far as people saying, you’re looking well todar, or, if you are cute, you must not be smart, or you must be bright.

          People say stuff like that all the time.

          1. roxy

            People say a lot of stuff all the time. The point is that Biden has been told to keep his hands to himself and he still thinks it’s cute not to.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              But if we are ‘not seeing anything conclusive,’ that’s time better spent doing something else, no?

        2. Cal2

          No, tongues…

          Actually, his hand’s predilections are not the problem…

          It’s 45 million student loan debtors, who thanks to Biden, can never discharge their government enforced, privately collected debts, even if permanently disabled, broke, defrauded etc.

          But, banks? Oh my, the taxpayers must help them.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Can they actually replace “the Forest” – the vast structure of oak beams that held up the roof – which was lead, btw? Will they actually cut down a whole oak forest for the purpose?

      And who is able to make all those huge sheets of lead? Solar panels, also dark, might be an improvement, and much lighter.

      Since the spire was actually 19th Century, a more modern replacement might make sense.

      But, it’ up to France, not the rest of us.

    2. Olga

      You mean you did not like the yellow arches? Those would certainly add a bit of that ‘je ne sais quoi’…

  10. dearieme

    I’ll get in before the Water-Cooler: I thought this interesting (from the Z blog).

    The endless echoes of politics past is sure to continue, as we see in the Democratic presidential field. The only two people talking about the present are Gabbard and Yang, both of whom will be ushered off the stage by Labor Day. The rest all sound like museum exhibits from previous eras.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Drones with Flamethrowers are Now a Thing”

    But wait! The Chinese must have stolen this idea, just as they steal every other western idea! I found a four year old video showing a teen in Connecticut who strapped a flamethrower onto a drone to cook a turkey-

    1. dearieme

      It would have been even more impressive if you’d found a ten year old video showing a four year old strapping a flamethrower onto a drone.

    2. Wukchumni

      Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
      What Silicon Valley did for us at Elon’s recent gleaming?
      Whose broad stripe of bright scars through the new moon night,
      O’er the internet we watched were so gallantly streaming?
      And the drone’s red glare, the flamethrower fare flare
      Gave proof through the night that big brother was still there.
      Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
      O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On one extreme, the claim is the Chinese must have stolen this idea (while the Chinese say Russia, France, the UK, etc., stole priceless ancient treasures in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion, for one example.)

      On the other end, it is that the Chinese invented everything (including the first person flying, see Wan Hu, Wikipedia, the world’s first astronaut, though Wiki is doubtful).

  12. anon in so cal

    Julian Assange is seriously ill and moved to a prison hospital.

    Caitlin Johnstone:

    “Assange Is Reportedly Gravely Ill, And Hardly Anyone’s Talking About It

    Assange is reportedly so ill he can barely speak and has been transferred to Belmarsh’s hospital wing. This is going almost completely ignored by the MSM and needs far more attention.”

      1. JBird4049

        Dying of a convenient “illness” might not be so great for TPTB. IIRC Assange is supposed to have a deadman’s switch for Wikileaks to release most/all of its files.

        1. Oregoncharles

          They arrested him, so they must think they have a handle on those “security” files.

          1. JBird4049

            Possibly although the plea deal that almost happened was going to be the turning over of much of it. IIRC, it happened a few years ago and the DOJ aaaallmost signed off on the deal with Assange’s lawyers, but James Comey stopped it.

            My guess is that it is opportunism as Ecuador is trying to get either a second IMF loan or the original one, for the dealing with the damage from the last earthquake, renegotiated and that President Moreno, who was not in office during the asylum offer, was currying favor. Even when the United States was at its most powerful, events did not always occur when the government wanted it too. President Moreno made the decision on when to end the asylum.

            Anyways, it is awful that Ecuador felt that it needed that “loan” from the Mob IMF for its government had been doing a really good job improving the country despite its lack of resources; before the 1980s the previous centuries under the local oligarchy’s families’ violence, theft, general repression and the absence of a functioning rule of law kept the country really poor and undeveloped. It took several coups and counter coups in the late 20th century before the old families control was broken.

            I was really impressed by the continual work and steady improvements in all aspects of Ecuador especially it is still very poor and fairly undeveloped; I just hope that the use of the IMF’s use of disaster capitalism to impose neoliberal policies does not undo the last thirty years of work.

        2. Arizona Slim

          I see him as a modern-day John Peter Zenger. And, if Assange, ahem, conveniently dies, he will become a martyr, the likes of whom we haven’t seen in a long time.

        3. Procopius

          Dying of a convenient “illness” might not be so great for TPTB.

          Oh, pfui! Do you not remember last year’s Skripal “poisoning?” They’ll just blame it on Russian poisoning and find a couple of Russian tourists to arrest. Anybody have any idea what happened to the Skripals? Are they still alive? After being exposed to a “nerve agent” 10 times more deadly than Sarin? As Hermann Goering explained to his interviewer, “You just tell them they are under attack and the pacifists are helping the enemy.”

  13. Frank Little

    From the CRS report about the tax cuts:

    The data appear to indicate that not enough growth occurred in the first year to cause the tax cut to pay for itself. Assuming a tax rate of 18% (based on CBO estimates), and estimating the tax cut to reduce revenue in calendar year 2018 by about 1.2% of GDP, a 6.7% GDP increase due to the tax cuts alone would be required.15 Rather, the combination of projections and observed effects for 2018 suggests a feedback effect of 0.3% of GDP or less—5% or less of the growth needed to fully offset the revenue loss from the Act.

    This won’t stop people like Cocaine Kudlow trotting out the idea of tax cuts paying for themselves every time they want one, but it is funny to see just how poorly that myth stacks up against reality.

  14. roxan

    Regarding the war on opiates–as much as we all despise Big Pharma, we should all hope Oklahoma has no success in their suit. Hospitals already have shortages of many narcotics, including anesthesia drugs. When I had surgery earlier this year, they informed me they were substituting some of the standard anesthesia drugs with less desirable alternatives and wanted to know if I could tolerate them? It was fine, in the end, but a sign of things to come.

    If the drug companies stop making narcotics, as these ignorant people wish, this is what we have to look forward to:, from 2013.

    I was in India the previous year, and it was possible to buy anything imaginable OTC, no questions asked.

    1. Old Jake

      Why are we dependent on what are effectively warlords to manufacture critical medications? OK, no need to answer that, it’s rhetorical. But we should not be allowing ourselves to be held hostage to the demands of profiteers.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Six months ago, I was in terrible pain due to what I thought was a back and leg injury that wouldn’t heal. Prednisone and muscle relaxants did no good.

      Advil? I darn near lived on that stuff. It was to the point where I was angry over the fact that the dosage limit was 6 per day.

      I went to physical therapy and went to physical therapy and went some more. And I just wasn’t getting better.

      Then I went to a massage therapist who recommended a book called Healing Back Pain. The author was a New York University med school professor named John Sarno.

      Let’s just say that I didn’t just read that book — I devoured it. Basically, what Sarno was saying is that a lot of back pain is psychosomatic. The way out? Stop focusing on the physical and look at the psychological issues. And that’s what I did.

      Within five weeks from when I started reading that book, I was back to doing things like sitting down and riding my bicycle around Tucson. Two activities that I thought I wouldn’t be doing again for a long time. I don’t take pain meds anymore because I no longer need them.

      Now, I know that there are many people who have chronic pain that wouldn’t respond to the measures I just described. But I do believe that there is pain that has roots in one’s psychology, and that more research needs to be done on this topic.

      1. John

        So what were those psychological issues? How did you stop focusing on the physical to look at them?

        1. Arizona Slim

          In the span of a few weeks, I became the victim of mail theft, burglary, and identity theft.

          Those were the triggering events for what I now believe is PTSD. Which was re-triggered after the police closed my burglary and identity theft case. The trauma I felt was expressed through the body pain that I described in the above comment.

          In his books, Sarno describes the cases of many people suffering physical pain that began with psychological trauma. His protege, Howard Schubiner, describes the same thing in his book, Unlearn Your Pain. I also recommend this book.

          In answer to your question about focusing on the psychological, I started talking back to my pain. I used language that can’t be repeated on this blog. And it worked.

          1. Svante

            Good luck finding anything on Google!




            Ever eat catfish outa Chartiers Creek, huff lacquer or play outfield in Plutonium Park?

  15. Cal2

    Westside schools…

    Amazing how these progressive policy things designed to help our poor end up being feeding opportunities for the parasites..

    “…the idea that credentials cannot be seen to have been obtained by corrupt means if they are to be of value and their bearers are to have authority…”

    I would rather hire someone from a state school than Harvard or Yale.

    There should be a “Secondary SAT” that measures real world experiences, common sense and intellectual ability for IVY graduates.

    1. Anon

      The diploma the Westside school was giving out were for GED’s. These diploma’s are important to many private-for-profit “educational institutions” because they can’t enroll students (eligible for Federal school loans) without them. These “colleges” were taking referral fees of $250 from prospective students while paying the Westside school $55 for granting these students a GED.

      The problem is private-for-profit “universities”, not the Westside school. A GED is worthless in the real work world.

      1. jrkrideau

        Not really, the last I heard was the Canadian Military would accept them. Of course, the military usually wants results not “credentials”.

    2. Duck1

      “Secondary SAT”

      That would be the upper class twit competition depicted by Monty Python.

  16. cnchal

    > While you’re sleeping, your iPhone stays busy — snooping on you WaPo

    Here is what all the snooping, spying and GPS location data gobbling is for.

    When you get up in the middle of the night for a trip to the crapper, it’s so that Kimberly Clark can be sold your attention about a great two for one deal on bumwad.

    Never has so much data been collected about absurdly trivial life details to try and sell you stuff tomorrow you bought yesterday. Never mind the gargantuan amounts of power required to run the trivia collector system, which you can’t opt out of with any “smart” phone.

    Whenever I see one of those in the back pocket of someone I think, “they” haven’t succeeded in inserting a bug up your ass yet, but your ass cheek is close enough.

    1. Ignacio

      Never has so much data been collected about absurdly trivial life details to try and sell you stuff tomorrow you bought yesterday. Never mind the gargantuan amounts of power required to run the trivia collector system, which you can’t opt out of with any “smart” phone.

      It turns out that although technology can improve your productivity also results in a lot of inproductive activity.

      1. MJ

        I don’t understand. What is the big deal? I don’t think I have ever seen a single advertisement on my iPhone6.

        I rarely use my phone for making/taking calls. I use it (in this order) to: (1) play Sudoku when I need to kill time, (2) listen to audio books when I’m trying to get to sleep, (3) exchange text messages with three other family members, (4) take photos, (5) make lists, (6) check the weather forecast, (5) consult a map. I hardly ever use it to surf the web because the screen is too small for my poor eyesight and fumbling fingers.

        So, how I can I tell if someone is spying on me?

        1. Anon

          Well, depending on the App’s (internal phone) access those games, books, text, & photos, can be relaying your location, activity, age, gender, and maybe even income level back to their servers when you log on to the Web to get the weather. No phone calls needed.

          1. Procopius

            It seems to me the important points are:
            1. How many ads do you see.
            Since I never use my browser on my five-year-old Android phone, none.
            2. How effective are the ads you see.
            The ads I see on my desktop are not effective. I buy a brand of toilet paper because it’s the one my late wife used to buy, and happens to also be the cheapest. I buy the brand of milk I do because that company has a monopoly in this town. When a web site tells me I must turn off my ad-blocker I hardly notice the difference. I just automatically filter them out because they’re selling things I have no use for. One that I’ve noticed because it’s everywhere is cheap airline flights in Thailand. I have not flown since 1982, when I was discharged from the Army in Germany and flew to Thailand. If this is the sophistication of their targeting I’m more convinced than ever that RussiaRussiaRussia is sheer fantasy.

    2. Cal2

      And they are frying nearby internal organs.

      America’s most respected scientific journal:

      Women who ran with iPhones in their sports bras had tumors there.

      “As of January, San Francisco will require cell phone retailers to provide the estimated Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for each phone. I am not asking anyone to become a Luddite and forgo the benefits and wonders of modern technology. I am saying — know the dangers of holding phones next to the brain and body, and be safe. Using a headset or speaker phone substantially reduces radiation exposure, as does holding a phone away from the body when it’s connected to a signal.”

      “Interestingly, smart phones come with warnings, but these warnings are buried in the manufacturers’ instruction material that few people read. The iPhone 4 manual, for example, says that if the phone is kept in the pocket, “FCC guidelines for safe exposure can be exceeded,” and that “users are responsible for protecting themselves.”

    3. Oh

      Apple has been sitting on a treasure trove of data which contains info on every user and they’ll monetize it more and more. “What happens on your iphone strays from your iphone”

  17. John C.

    Re: Boris being summoned to court on “three counts of misconduct in public office” — whoa, *they have a law against that* in the UK!

    1. Anonymous2

      It will probably fail but the underlying idea seems to be that politicians should not lie to the electorate.

      But it would revolutionise English politics if he was found guilty. Lying is his main skill set.

  18. Cal2

    “Pollution cover-ups exposed in Chinese provinces”

    Should you be eating China’s pollution?

    Besides heavy metals, perchlorate (a precursor to rocket fuel) has been found in China’s sewage as well as its rice, bottled drinking water, and milk. It is throughout the entire water supply and contaminates any would-be “organic” produce.
    Perchlorate is an endocrine-disruptor and is also toxic. It can cause improper regulation of the metabolism, thyroid problems, as well as developmental problems in children and infants.

    List of foods:

  19. Chris

    Well now…Saint Mueller is doubling down in the Russian interference claims in his last media event before returning to private life.

    Firstly, good on him for sticking to the report’s defined scope he explained all that very concisely and professionally. Secondly, he hasn’t given anyone details they didn’t already know. And given several of the indicted so-called conspirators from Russian tried to begin discovery and start the process of finding out what evidence exists to connect them to this mess, that action was closed, right? So If Democrats want to use anything in the report, they’ll have to begin impeachment proceedings. More dry powder for the vaults!

    1. Procopius

      Was that action closed? I tried following it for a while. Concord Management and Consulting. At one point I read that the judge, who seemed to be quite prejudiced against the defense, asked the prosecutors why so many of the ads they were presenting were in the Russian language. I remember that at the initial arraignment the defense asked for a speedy trial, but I think the DoJ, with the judge’s assistance, were slow-walking everything. One of the things they tried was to claim that the defendants were not properly served. A strange claim for the prosecution to make to a court with the defendant’s lawyers right there. There was a propaganda report in April about how the case might expose secrets, but the most recent substantive stories were from March this year. As that blogger said at the end, “How is it that none of us have heard about the progress of this case in the news? Why is nobody reporting on it?” Ooh, ooh, I know, call on me!

  20. Oregoncharles

    ““Yellow Vest” Facebook group with 350,000 members frozen on European election day WSWS”

    Just to drill in the obvious: this is the danger in using a hostile corporation as your main organizing tool.

    Twitter, too.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But a party likely wants a platform.

        From Wikipedia:

        A political party platform, or program is a formal set of principal goals which are supported by a political party or individual candidate, in order to appeal to the general public, for the ultimate purpose of garnering the general public’s support and votes about complicated topics or issues.

        1. Arizona Slim

          In NC-speak, a platform refers to the big social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Or big online companies like Amazon.

          I think Lambert coined the original saying, “If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.”

        2. MichaelSF

          A big reason I Demexited was I couldn’t see any connection between the official Dem platform and their actions.

  21. Olga

    Major Russian Cities Need 100 Years to Reach Moscow’s Development Level, Study Says Moscow Times
    I read the study (so you would not have to) to see how it fits the click-bait headline (and given that Moscow Times is a part of the fifth column in Russia).
    One thing is true – many regions in Russia receive less investment than Moscow – but this is a very old problem, dating back to the times of czars. It ought to be rectified, no doubt.
    Second, the study estimates 100 years if (a big if) the level of investment remains the same as it had been in the period of 2010-2017. There is nothing to stop the govt from changing that level – and it is aware of that (it seems, study’s authors missed VVP’s 3/1/18 speech, which was two-thirds about specific development steps the country has to take, and only one-third about the new weaponry).
    Third, Moscow today officially has about 15 million inhabitants – the unofficial number is closer to 20 million. I would think it is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison with cities that have populations of around 1 million. Not quite the same scale… with all that flows from that single fact.
    Fourth, the study ( or measures some value that is produced on the territory of a city. It is not clear to what extent it takes into account historical, economic, or geographic context of each city – or any other considerations.
    And the final question – many countries have capitol cities and surrounding regions be the main economic engines. There are various reasons for why this is so. So I wonder how the US, EU, or some Asian countries would fare in such a study? (None of this means that the imbalance ought not to be remedied – somehow and everywhere.)

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