Links 8/17/19

Man saves coyote pup in sweet rescue video New York Post (fury). The man is quite a character.

7 Ways Bees Continue To Amaze Us Popular Mechanics (resilc)

Survey of U.S. forests ties tree-killing insects to climate change NBC. UserFriendly: “LOL maybe 1 good thing about the bugpocolypse.”

Carbon Pricing Is Not a Fix for Climate Change Scientific American. First, this is a straw man. I can’t recall anyone treating carbon pricing as a magic one stop remedy. Second, then there needs to be a tax in advanced economies to reflect the proper pricing of carbon for imports and imported content from developing countries that won’t impose carbon pricing. Mind you, this is only one element, and probably not the most critical one, to reducing carbon output (and a tax on exports won’t address domestic use….) . Nevertheless, the article’s position is tantamount to saying, “We can’t afford to save the planet because developing countries need groaf” That is not an acceptable posture. It’s those very same developing countries who are particularly vulnerable to climate-change-induced flooding and storms. They’ll pay one way or another. Which poison do they pick?

Luxury ship enters Bering Strait, starts cruise on Russia’s Northern Sea Route Berents Observer (Glenn F). FWIW, Silversea, which is a very upscale cruise operator.

David Keith’s Carbon Removal Moonshot The Tyee (Mike R)

Modi’s Independence Day speech: Call against single-use plastic can be a start Down to Earth (J-LS)

So how autonomous is 3D printed construction, really? SpaceFactory (guurst)

How Life Sciences Actually Work: Findings of a Year-Long Investigation Alexey Guzey (Bryan W)

China?

Hong Kong Protestors Call for Disney Boycott After ‘Mulan’ Star Voices Support for Police Crackdown Hollywood Reporter (UserFriendly)

Trump Thinks He Is Winning the Trade War. The Data Tell a Different Story Fortune

Huawei Is Working On Its Own Version of Google Maps CNET

Pacific islands will survive climate crisis because they ‘pick our fruit’, Australia’s deputy PM says Guardian (Kevin W). Wowsers. A bit too obviously colonial….

Kashmir

Armed forces in Kashmir are detaining children and molesting women and girls amid a state-wide blackout, report claims Business Insider

Brexit

No-deal Brexit edges closer as key Tories refuse to back Corbyn Guardian (Kevin W)

Brexit: a loss of respect Richard North

New Cold War

The west has spent 20 years getting Putin wrong, and now it may be too late to get it right Independent

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Huge Survey of Firmware Finds No Security Gains In 15 Years Security Ledger. My assumption would be it has gotten worse. Complexity and additions to older codebase would tend to do that.

Facial recognition becoming ‘epidemic’ in British public spaces Yahoo (Kevin W)

Trump Administration Asks Congress to Reauthorize N.S.A.’s Deactivated Call Records Program New York Times (furzy)

Alarm as Trump Requests Permanent Reauthorization of NSA Mass Spying Program Exposed by Snowden Common Dreams (furzy)

Trump Transition

What the next Democratic president should learn from the Trumpocalypse The Week (UserFriendly)

Appeals Court Narrows Injunction Barring Trump Asylum Restrictions Wall Street Journal

2020

Obama Cautioned Biden About Running for President: “You Don’t Have to Do This, Joe” Vanity Fair (resilc)

Obama has taken active interest in Biden’s campaign: report The Hill. UserFriendly: “Looks like someone is worried how Biden imploding will make him look. I see a Kamala endorsement in the future.”

Bernie Sanders’ Media Beef Is Legitimate, But the Press Can’t Admit It Rolling Stone

The quiet death of the “white Bernie Bro” attack Carl Beijer (UserFriendly)

Tulsi Gabbard Gets Some Vindication Truthdig (furzy)

Trump is Losing Many of His 2016 Supporters Washington Monthly (resilc)

L’affaire Epstein. Boy, do I feel as if I have been played. Look at this diagram. And I insist you look before continuing with this text. Again, go here and scroll down to the large yellow diagram. See the hyoid and the other neck bones, as in the sum total of neck bones?

Now look yet again at the Washington Post account, which was one of the better earlier ones, on the initial Epstein autopsy. This is the first part of the headline: Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck. This is the top of the story:

An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death.

Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple.

The story unambiguously says there more than one bone broken, as opposed to multiple breaks to the hyoid bone.

Go look at the diagram again. What are the other bones in the neck? The only other bones are all vertebrae, C-1 though C-7. What kind of force do you think it takes to break one of them versus the hyoid? Yet all the attention was directed to what it might mean to break the relatively thin hyoid, and not the spine. And I didn’t even bother looking at what bones there are in the neck. Lordie. No wonder Espstein’s attorneys aren’t buying the medical examiner’s findings. Google confirms my suspicions in 30 seconds:

Cervical spine injuries in suicidal hanging without a long-drop–patterns and possible underlying mechanisms of injury: an autopsy study.

The incidence of cervical spine injuries in suicidal hangings with a short-drop has been reported to be extremely low or non-existent. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and pattern of cervical spine injuries in suicidal hanging.

METHODS: A retrospective autopsy study was performed and short-drop suicidal hanging cases with documented cervical spine injuries were identified. This group was further analyzed with regard to the gender and age of the deceased, the position of the ligature knot, the presence of hyoid-laryngeal fractures, and the level of cervical spine injury.

RESULTS: Cervical spine injuries were present in 25 of the 766 cases, with an average age of 71.9 ± 10.7 years (range 39-88 years). In 16 of these 25 cases, the ligature knot was in the anterior position. The most common pattern of cervical spine injury included partial or complete disruption of the anterior longitudinal ligament and widening of the lower cervical spine disk spaces, associated with absence of hyoid-laryngeal fractures.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24652079

And note these were still “short-drop suicidal hangings.” According to the Wall Street Journal, the examiner didn’t give any commentary:

In a brief statement, Barbara Sampson, the chief medical examiner in New York City, said Mr. Epstein’s cause of death was suicide by hanging. She didn’t elaborate further, saying she reached her determination after “careful review of all investigative information.”

Perhaps the Washington Post account about multiple bones being broken was incorrect, even thought it came from two sources. That would make the obsession with the hyoid bone at the expense of the cervical vertebrae make sense. However, given that “broken bones” was in the headline, you would think someone would have asked for a correction if such a key point were wrong, particularly, as this discussion indicates, where that factoid takes you. That part of the account is still being treated as accurate with respect to the broken bones; The Hill replayed that part in its write-up of the medical examiner’s findings on Friday.

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why? Charles Hugh Smith

Our Fabulously Free Press

Twitter SUSPENDS Scaramucci for calling Trump ‘the fattest President since William Howard Taft’ Daily Mail (resilc)

Reported! Instagram to roll out special button letting users flag ‘fake posts’ RT (Kevin W). So what happens when right wingers (or Koch-funded trolls) flag every post on climate change as fake?

Gunz

Israel has thousands of young men who carry assault rifles. Why don’t they commit mass shootings? Dallas News (resilc). Not a new question Michael Moore pointed out in Bowling for Columbine that there are a lot of guns in Canada too.

Customs and Border Protection Computers Are Returning After Shutdown NPR (Kevin W). Third world.

Powell orders media blackout for Fed staff Spectator (Scott)

Trump Recession Trend Is Going to Stick Bloomberg (resilc)

Wells Fargo Closed Their Accounts, but the Fees Continued to Mount New York Times (resilc)

Elon Musk says he wants to ‘nuke Mars’ and that he plans to make ‘Nuke Mars!’ T-shirts Business Insider (Kevin W). He needs to go back on his meds.

Class Warfare

Of course millennials are saying ‘I don’t’ to wedding invites. We’re completely broke Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Farmers Reel After Sonny Perdue Mocks Them As ‘Whiners’ Amid Trade War Bankruptcies HuffPost (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R courtesy the Pleasant Lake Protective Association). A milkweed bug:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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183 comments

  1. John A

    “Israel has thousands of young men who carry assault rifles. Why don’t they commit mass shootings?”

    Because mass shootings of Palestinians don’t count?

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      I have no idea what Israeli gun culture is like, but it’s probably less infantile that in the US. The draft and the constant fear mongering about imminent extinction doubtless have a lot to do with it.

      I was listening to a couple Americans talk about guns just yesterday. Infantile really is the right word for it. They’re completely frivolous about it; guns are toys to be collected and played with. I can guarantee neither of them practices scrupulous gun safety, securing them in lockers. And one of them dropped some pearls of wisdom about how Las Vegas was a falseflag meant to enable the liberals to take our guns (so why haven’t they, genius? It was two years ago). Manchildren.

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        The Venn Diagram of people who think shootings are false flags so “The Liberals Can Grab Your Guns” and people who think “The Wealth Will Trickle Down…Any Decade Now…” is likely a perfect circle

        Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        Since they all do service, they have a very matter-of-fact attitude to guns.

        Years ago I was backpacking in SE Asia and was hanging out with a few Israeli’s, most just out of their service. Some Irish kids who just came back from a range where you could fire off an AK-47 on full automatic for $5 (more if there was a chicken available for target practice) were joking and laughing about it. The Israelis seemed entirely baffled that anyone would pay to use ‘such an old, out of date weapon’. Some time later I had a Vietnamese gf who knew her way around an AK-47 as all school kids there are thought how to dismantle and clean one. She likewise could not understand why westerners got so excited about using one.

        Reply
        1. Ember Brody

          Strange behaviour is right, especially as all anyone who wants to use some quite heavy weaponry has to do in Ireland is join the army reserve. But being part of a well organized militia takes the fun out of bearing arms, it seems.

          Reply
        2. JBird4049

          Several things are different in America and with Americans. First, angry, economically, even violently, oppressed nations, or groups living a corrupt, often hellish system tend to act violently; however, while there are plenty of other angry, economically, even violently, oppressed nations living a corrupt, often hellish system like much of America, we are uniquely socially fragmented. A society can sustain much, often inconceivable stress and violence, but only if it is, and remains, socially connected. A community and not a collection of individuals.

          Secondly, guns in America are not guns really. They are dog whistles, social identifiers, political symbols, and not practical tools or a enjoyable hobby. They are used as clownish, but effective, political shorthand or tells, to many to indicate, and divide into, what that American’s supposed political and social beliefs and alliances are.

          From the “left” it’s OMFG gunz!! Evil flying death machines used by Neanderthal Republican Hillbilly Racists who want to Kill the Children!! Ban everything, or pass BS nonsense laws that do nothing, but feels good!

          From the “right” it is Our Sacred God Given Right to Defend Ourselves and Our Families from the Evuhl Government and the Godless Liberal/Left New World Order Freaks. Oh, and the SJWs don’t forget them! Buy everything, no restrictions, get little Johnny his Uzi!

          I swear, sometimes I think the partisans on both sides are a bit whacked. Like someone is putting chemicals in their food. Or something.

          As one who is politically and perhaps socially to the left of Sanders, has used guns, and who has know people with a roomful of guns, I do not fit into the politically approved American paradigm, which is the point is it not? I also collect books for fun sometimes risking hunger because books! It is the same with some gun collectors.

          Why did you buy X, that unusal, unnecesary, and expensive thing? Because I Must Have My Precious!! Cars, books, guns, knives (have you seen some peoples kitchen tools?) are all just things. Tools that can be used for good, or for bad, or as a hobby.

          The imposed paradigm is used to split, to fragment, to divide by using fear and demonization, which increases the power of the elites and to the leaders in the various movements like the alt right or neoliberalism. Fear is a very, very widespread tool in American politics, make no mistake. Much as whitewashing history, or the erasure of the past, enables the creation of mythical stories like American Exceptionalism and the creation of the American Deplorables.

          So by focusing on just the guns, which really are just symbols, ignoring the many who live in isolated communities, or who hunt for food, or the many socialists, gays, blacks, and others who use guns, and the hobbyists, and the many who have lived through shootings, the violence, the deaths caused by them, as well as the despair, the hunger, the rage, and the causes of those Americans who have used violence, that the violence, the fear, and the deaths continue. This explains much of America’s problematic realationship with guns.

          So finally, places like Brazil, Honduras, Switzerland, or Israel might be heavily armed societies, might in as in the former be very violent places, or in the latter peaceful, or even wealthy enough to collect guns as a hobby, but not have men routinely walking into a school, a church, or a mall and start shooting total strangers.

          This is what American society unique. Not the guns, not the violence, nor the deaths, but the sheer randomness of it, and until we deal with that, screaming over guns, even having them all disappear magically or removing all restrictions, will not solve the causes of those sheer random mass deaths (the incidents with the largest death tolls in America has been caused by bombings and arson, not guns.) People will still be angry enough to become nihilistic enough to do that evil.

          Reply
          1. Tom Stone

            Thanks, JBird, well said.
            I got a .22 rifle for my 10th Birthday but wasn’t allowed to handle it until I had taken and passed Hunter safety t.raining, which was provided free of charge by the NRA ( Almost 56 years ago).
            Most of my training since came from ex marines and a POST certified firearms instructor, I spent a lot of time working on deescalation techniques.
            I still own guns, they are tools with a limited but at times irreplaceable utility.
            I blame a lot of the carelessness I seem among gun owners on the lack of training as well as the conditioning from TV and the Movies.
            The MSM is especially proud of their ignorance of firearms and the firearms culture in the USA, they might know that the bullet thingy comes out the skinny end, but that’s about it.

            Reply
          2. GregG

            This is very good and true. It just seems more impossible or equally impossible to fix the This than it does to take the gunz awayz or make them harder to own, use, and pay for. Sure, if the gunz aren’t there, the same people will switch to driving Teslas into crowded malls at high speed (dual effect of impact and intense fire) or switch to pressure-cooker bombs. But these alternate outlets sure seem to take more time, thought, and cash than simply:

            1. buy gun from anywhere
            2. drop in bullets
            3. press button

            And yes my argument falls to ze ground if everyone switches to using rental trucks and lots of fertilizer, but most of the alternative choices for “teh crazies” working-out their issues would harm far fewer people and give people more time to respond (possibly even by someone from a well organized militia).

            You know, go ahead and fix the This, but that seems the least likely solution unless we fix all the globalization and inequalities. I think this ship has sailed.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              You know, go ahead and fix the This, but that seems the least likely solution unless we fix all the globalization and inequalities. I think this ship has sailed.

              This is the reason for my post.

              People do not want to fix This because that would require hard work including seeing other people as people and also truly looking at themselves. Honest self reflection, real brain sweat, and maybe some serious spending of money on other people.

              It is easier just to scream those slogans and retreat into cultivated ignorance and fear.

              Reply
              1. JPerry

                There is little difference between a terrorist that straps on and uses a suicide bomb belt and an American mass shooting murderer. It seems in most cases it is a socially and economically deprived individual who has been led to believe that his downfall is due to some external factor. An isolated man with limited and declining prospects for love, relationships, family, financial reward, and upward mobility can convince himself to do terrible and heinous acts in the name of religion, racism, leaving one’s mark etc. This problem is also reflected in societies with high suicide rates (such as America, Japan).

                Reply
          3. IdahoSpud

            You might be overlooking a less complex answer: Selective Serotonin Uptake Reinhibitors (SSRIs). After a rash of suicides of patients taking these prescription medicines, the FDA required all of them to issue “Black Box” warnings about suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation.

            No I’d like to ask you a legit question: If a drug can numb you to the notion of killing yourself, could it also numb you to the notion of killing others? Andrea Yates, the mother who sequentially drowned all of her young children, was one of the first SSRI events that I was aware of.

            The guns have been there all along, the SSRIs have not. This is when the issue began

            Reply
        3. ambrit

          The glaring difference between the Israeli model and America concerning attitudes towards guns seems to be that places with mandatory military service produce citizens who have been trained properly in not only how to handle firearms, but to give said tools proper respect.
          Another peculiarity about the Israeli example is that the entire youth cohort of the country, through their mandated service are inculcated with a specific “other” upon which to focus their frustrations and angers. Shooting Palestinians seems, from this remove, to be “official” policy in that country. Conflate the Palestinians with the surrounding Arab countries and you have a perfect “Meta Other” with which to manipulate the fears and worries of your population.
          America, on the other hand, has a superfluity of “others” to focus one’s rage and frustration upon. Add in the basically untrained nature of the majority of the American gun owning population and one has a recipe for disasters, large and small, near and far.
          As for the disdain with which many ‘woke’ militarist trained people view the AK platform, well, if it gets the ‘job’ done, don’t discount it. That fatal bullet doesn’t care what sort of firearm it comes from.
          Since we are entering a “Time of Tribulations” as a country, much less a world, it looks like it is high time to institute a mandatory draft. Not necessarily into a fighting military, as in to a working threat remediation force. If it could be used to teach many of the young to respect guns for the dangerous tools that they are, so much the better. Besides, when the wealthy groups start to block and obstruct the needed works involved in preparing for the effects of global climate change, a young, well trained ‘militia’ will come in handy to go in and “knock some heads together” to remove the obstacles to our survival as a species.
          I’m old enough to be preparing for death sooner or later. Those of us younger than me will have to deal with the chaos and dysfunction that climate change will engender. I really hope that our grandchildren are ready for the next century. It’s going to be one H— of a ride.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I wonder if there’s data to show the correlation between mass shootings and the end of the draft. Without even starting a Google search, my feeling is that when we had the draft mass shootings were rare, like the Texas Tower Sniper. Am I right about that? May be a fruitful research project for somebody in the social sciences.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              There have been incidents of mass or group murders via shootings, bombings, and arsons. Even bladed tools pretty much every single decade of our history. Often multiple incidents. America is a very violent nation. Unfortunately, that’s how we roll.

              However, the upward trend has been happening for several decades, but the apparent start was probably during the first serious cutbacks at the USPS in 1986(?) when workers started “going postal.” It went from an almost unknown thing up to the routine fun of today. Also, the first incidents during the 80s were generally targeted at upper management, bosses, and disliked co-workers at a specific company or office. Sometimes there was a lot of targets, but people reported the deliberate skipping over of people. If you weren’t on the personal hate list you were fairly safe. Unfortunately, it’s now indiscriminate shootings of groups of total strangers including children.

              There will be more ratcheting up. I can’t wait for another Oklahoma City type bombing. Mass shootings just don’t bring in the attention like they use to. But a truck, van, or even a car full of fertilizer can kill dozens of people easily. Or poison gas which is stupid easy to make.

              Reply
        4. The Rev Kev

          Must be cultural to a large extent. In Switzerland I would see guys going to training camps and they would have their battle rifles leaning on their packs at cafes like they were just tennis rackets. It was all part and parcel of Swiss life. Most homes then had these rifles in storage in their closets but mass shootings are very rare. There is a high degree of trust there.
          Refreshing my memory of this, I found an interesting side-story. When you are finished your military service in Switzerland, you have the option of buying your battle rifle by paying an administrative fee of about 300-500 Swiss francs (about the same in US dollars). The rifle is converted to a semiautomatic only configuration and up to a decade or so ago, about 40% of Swiss soldiers went for this option. As I said, there is a high degree of trust there.

          Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I’d say our gun culture most represents the myriad of basket-case African countries in the 80’s to the 00’s, where the gun was law and disorder ruled.

          We’re mostly missing the disorder part, for now.

          A fine armchair trip read:

          Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition

          Reply
          1. richard

            How funny that you mentioned that book; I was just thinking of it today. I was listening today to Radio War Nerd tell me about the Incan Empire (gary brecher), and thinking he is a good replacement for Pelton (who hasn’t put out a new edition in many years, i kinda miss it).
            It gives the same kind of historical and cultural context that Dangerous Places used to give. A recent podcast on likely outcomes of a u.s. invasion of iran was one example of terrific reporting. Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing what Pelton’s up to lately. I devoured those books when I was younger, though the machismo part never appealed to me much. Just the honest appraisal of life outside my bubble was appreciated.

            Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Because they’re encouraged by their employers and have a readily available population of targets and complete impunity?

      Ask yourself how sick a culture has to be for the infamous “2 kills 1 shot” t shirt to exist. Apologies if you had to google it and were unaware.

      With friends like these, who needs enemies?

      Reply
  2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    It was about 15 years ago when I visited Cork City Gaol which as part of it’s very well thought out tour, provided a history of hanging. Apparently before the long drop which appears to have been developed mainly for the comfort of the spectators could take up to 30 minutes for the victim to be declared dead with the average being somewhere between 10 – 20 minutes resulting from asphyxiation with no bones broken.

    Quite a science developed around the later long drop method after various beheadings, using weight tables & enough expertise to get the knot in the right place in order to cause instant death through neck breakage.

    Gallows humour – A 19th century murderer whose name I cannot recall, on seeing the trapdoor remarked to the hangman ” That doesn’t look very safe “.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That was William Palmer in 1856. Australia’s most famous bushranger – Ned Kelly – had as his last words as he was about to hang: “Such is life”.

      Reply
      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Thank you – I believe that I am somehow name & specific date dyslexic, although my partner would probably think something else.

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, no expert here, but the whole point of the long drop was to break one or more vertebrae, to produce a quicker death. Short drop hanging is almost always strangulation, although I’ve heard it observed that some photos of Nazi’s exposed to the short drop appear to show a broken neck. I unfortunately had an accident that resembled a short-drop hanging (long and grim story) which messed up numerous muscles and ligaments in my neck, but there was no question of vertebrae damage, I’m pretty sure the doctors didn’t even check (in case anyone asks, yes, I’m 100% recovered now).

      The only thing I can think of is that a rigid object, such as a pen, could be put by someone determined to kill themselves along the upper spine and inside the ligature, specifically to provide leverage to break the spine. Although for that to work I’d imagine the knot would have to be at the front, not the back of the face.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        I cant help thinking that there must be healthier interests with which a mind could be occupied on a Saturday!

        Reply
      2. EoH

        Indeed. Breaking the vertebrae was the point of official hangings. The hangman was trained to measure height and bodyweight to calculate the correct drop. Too little, the victim suffocated gruesomely. Too much, the head could come off, which tended to frighten the horses.

        Vertebrae could be broken from too short a drop: torque from violent thrashing about could do it. But that assumes a drop and legs free to swing.

        If Epstein hanged himself without a drop, say, by leaning into a noose, breaking vertrebrae would be hard. Pressure on the front half of the neck could break the hyoid, but there would be little pressure on the spinal column. He might have used the noose to pull his head back, but I suspect that is hard to sustain long enough to break a vertebra before passing out.

        A length of sheet or towel, drawn tight with a lever, would fully wrap the neck and could suffocate the victim and break a vertebra. The trick is to do it yourself. Another method is to pirouette, tightening the knot and then falling into it, letting the pressure do its work. But that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the spinal column. This would be easier if the reports would be clearer about which bone(s) were broken and what sort of hanging was involved.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          Epstein’s lawyers have already engaged an independent pathologist, and according to what I read he was allowed to attend the autopsy. I understand he will be conducting his own autopsy after Epstein’s body is released. We should be getting more detail from his report. I don’t know why the New York City Medical Examiner has chosen to be so terse in her statements. Are there legal reasons for keeping as much information as possible secret? It certainly is contributing to the speculation.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            i’m getting so tin foily i wonder if she doesn’t want to be the next suicide. i don’t think i’ve seen this much of a media narrative push since the 2d iraq war.

            Reply
  3. timbers

    Trump Administration Asks Congress to Reauthorize N.S.A.’s Deactivated Call Records Program New York Times (furzy)

    “Attorney General Jeff Sessions and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats on Monday asked top congressional Republicans and Democrats to reauthorize a law that lets the U.S. government target foreign nationals outside the United States.”

    (from TMP same article but not paywalled)

    While this may be helpful to Republicans in 2020 election – because we all know Bernie has conspired with Russia in the past to destroy America and Gabbard is working with Assad and his terrorists to name just a few threats to our national security military complex – seems to me not completely necessary because Obama normalized a Dick Nixon on Watergate steroids approach to political campaigns when he classified Hillary’s National Enquirer type report of campaign dirt on Trump so he could put a nice pretty Presidential seal or whatever with flowers on top and show it to the FISA court to get a warrant to “legally” have our spy agencies target his political opponents, like Trump for example.

    Maybe Trump is not comfortable relying on the establishment crowd to do what they did for Obama, and if he thinks NSA has those records, he can just order someone to go get them, and he use them for tweeting against his campaign opponents. That way, he won’t have to read long memos, either.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      The cynic in me sez that this is a smokescreen. The NSA has never stopped gathering data on calls. And the FISA court is a sham.

      Reply
      1. RWood

        who said the houston plan disappeared
        like cointelpro

        and what did close off the church committee
        and bring on the justice of fisa
        with GHWB as CIA director
        and sen inouye a member
        so that
        some whispered that foi could now be foiled
        so news might happen

        and as the monkey was anointed
        strange alliances were met —
        and betrayed

        who chaired the later version of a public western hanging

        and who were prominent and not for the national disgrace
        into maelstrom

        Reply
      2. lyman alpha blob

        Indeed. Remember when Bush ran the TIPS program up the flagpole and then “cancelled” it after public outcry? Then it turned out they were illegally spying on everyone anyway. They never stop the surveillance, they just stop telling the public the truth about it.

        Reply
      3. LifelongLib

        The whole point of e.g. the “Five Eyes” program (countries spying on each other’s citizens and exchanging the data) was to allow intelligence agencies to follow the letter of their countries’ domestic surveillance laws but nevertheless get the information they wanted. In my experience government agencies are very careful to have legal cover for everything they do.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          In my experience government agencies are very careful to have legal cover for everything they do.

          I think that’s characteristic of authoritarian countries. I remember American investigators for the Nuremberg Trials professed to be amazed at the degree to which the Nazis meticulously recorded all their atrocities. I think that in their minds they were covering their ass by retaining proof that they had followed the letter of the law. It’s been a very long time since I read The Gulag Archipelago, but I think Solzhenitsyn made the point in an off-hand way. The KGB was always careful to follow the law. Of course, the laws were written to give them a great deal of “flexibility.”

          Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Hong Kong Protestors Call for Disney Boycott After ‘Mulan’ Star Voices Support for Police Crackdown”

    Apparently for a lot of woke people, it is not permissible for someone to have an opinion that disagrees with their own. Everybody has to toe the line and tolerance is so now out of fashion when in fact it is a vital component of any civilized people. Jackie Chan has been copping a lot of flack for his saying that he found recent events there “sad and depressing” and hoped that it “can return to peace soon-

    https://nypost.com/2019/08/16/jackie-chan-sparks-outrage-over-comments-on-hong-kong-protests/

    I sometimes think that woke people are worse than the Borg.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Fay

      I would expect Jackie Chan to support the CCP. He toes the party line calling Taiwan democracy the biggest joke in the world.

      And it emerged he does not do his own stunts.

      I will boycott Rush Hours IV through VIII.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        How do you know that the line on Taiwan is not accurate? Not to mention that there are very few countries that actually practice real (even if relative term) democracy. Do you really believe that the west has democracy? One should perhaps peruse Manufacturing Consent…?

        Reply
      2. richard

        re jackie chan doing his own stunts
        I did not know that
        but he is 65 after all
        and has some doozies to his credit
        I think it’s Police Story 3: Super Cop where he hits a skyscraper, dangling from a helicopter by a 50 ft. rope and somehow emerges alive
        (this was an outtake, he certainly didn’t mean to)
        Now another rush of nostalgia (oh no)
        I miss watching old hong kong jackie chan movies in packed 2nd run theatres, with the crowd oohing and ahhing with every move
        those kinds of theatres no longer exist in seattle
        like the Neptune used to be (running spotlights on directors or actors, something different every night or two – festivals representing different countries, eras or styles in filmmaking)
        alhough even if those kinds of theatres were still around, I’d heard that the old hong kong prints were deteriorating pretty badly, and no new prints being made. I have no idea how that’s done; I’m sure it’s difficult.
        I do know watching those old movies (Project A Pt. II, Drunken Master, the hilarious Meals on Wheels) on a tv or my dumb tablet just isn’t the same.

        Reply
    2. a different chris

      Yeah but first I got a “who the (family blog) cares what some actor thinks?” issue.

      Secondly, what is with the “woke” people statement? Obviously there are a lot of people that don’t agree with her in the most significant manner possible, they are, you know, out in the streets protesting. Do you want them to agree with her? “Oh yeah, our bad”.

      I just don’t get where you are coming from. She says something, she gets pushback. That’s life.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        That’s just the problem… that’s not life. At least not a peaceful, pleasant, productive life.
        And if – in your view – this is life, then it is one of intolerance and potentially never-ending spiral or recriminations. A very dumb way of living life.

        Reply
        1. Monty

          The folks in these mobs need to calm down with their received opinions about the hot topics of the day. Go and watch Bari Weiss embarrass herself on Joe Rogan and ask yourself, “why do I bother to have an opinion about any of it?”.

          Reply
          1. JCC

            Actually the entire interview is well worth watching. Both Bari and Joe did a fine job of discussing topics like “woke”, identity politics, and falling for initial positions and screeds of the day without applying basic critical thinking.

            Or, to put it another way, too many people never read beyond the clickbait headline.

            Taking one bad part out of any interview out of context is how “news” works today, something they also rationally discuss in the interview.

            Reply
        2. a different chris

          See my response to Rev Kev below.

          But — yeah, in my view this *is* life. We agree, a very dumb way of living life. But at this point, do you see a lot of smarts going on around you? ‘Cause I sure don’t. And specifically:

          >one of intolerance and potentially never-ending spiral

          Well we had The War To End All Wars. Then we had another war. Now we haven’t quite risen again to the WWII level, but Korea->Vietnam->Iraq with something in between that I can’t even remember… oh yeah, Serbia. Russia had some spat somewhere east of nowhere.
          Those certainly seem like wars. Those certainly seem “never-ending”.

          Why at this point do you think it’s “not life”?

          Reply
          1. Olga

            I guess it is a matter of “acceptance.” If we begin to see/accept that as “life,” then we are doomed. In spite of all odds, I would insist that we try – at least in theory – to maintain a vision of a life that is more open, welcoming, warm, generous, tolerant, indulgent (of each other – and fauna and flora). A life that is open to beauty, poetry, generosity… Dunno, maybe it is the red wine talking… on the other hand, that other life you describe is just too depressing.

            Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘Woke for me is just shorthand and here I applied it to those people that I read want to boycott a film that a few days ago was supposed to be representing women in a big way. You have the wrong opinion in Hollywood and your career suffers badly and you see a lot of this lately. If there was more tolerance across the board we would have a more peaceful and sane society. I do not say that people should agree with her, what I am saying is that people should say ‘OK, I disagree with you’ and then move on. Not make it and ever other act or opinion a litmus test that people must pass daily. People should chill out more.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Ok that makes sense.

          If you read your post, you can see – not saying you said it this way, just saying I saw it this way – there’s a way to read it where you are saying “she should not be criticized”.

          She certainly should not be threatened. Nor should her career. Anyway, good to have it cleared up.

          Reply
        2. Pat

          I might point out that it is also counterproductive as a punishment. Her major rewards for being in the film have already been received. As for affecting her career… yes it might. OTOH being a non white female in a business where men dominate numbers and control wise probably is far more limiting.

          In the meanwhile they are punishing a film that might speak to some of their other positions as an off shoot of an individual who was speaking personally, but had no real power in what the film said or meant.

          If they want to boycott it because of Disney. Go for it. And not just because of the lack of imagination involved in the seemingly endless remakes.

          I do believe people should be allowed to organize boycotts of entities that hold some power in a situation. And personally boycott individuals for my own reasons (as in I see no reason to enrich Rapper X for constantly demeaning women in their lyrics by buying their records.). But there does seem to be more and more thoughtlessness to boycotts. Probably on purpose to make them less appealing or effective.

          Reply
  5. YY

    Why it isn’t suicide.
    JE, if he really decided to kill himself could have chosen much, easier and spectacular ways to go. Given the resources he had, he could easily have bought himself reliable and painless tools such as poison or even a gun in the environment that is so easily corrupted for a price. The apparent hurry to get JE to die smells like result of institutional decision making. That is he was killed by his employer/s. And it is not necessarily in the interest of the employer to make the death convincingly a suicide. They only need it to be officially a suicide to stop prolonging queries, but otherwise it suits them fine that an example is made that those who, by circumstance, may be able to dob in their bosses, will be silenced. Victims of “blackmail” have no interest in furthering their already compromised situation by taking part in organizing any sort of silencing, though welcome, depending upon how things are unravelling. The blackmail aspect is just a fantasy as it appears more like willing participation in a compromising situation. The then 14 year old jail bait victims would have justification for revenge, but this hardly ever takes the form of physical retribution. Although this particular sordid example shows how corrupt those who exercise power can be, it does not help that the semi-corrupt media help in keeping things looking as though everything is ok.

    Reply
    1. Jesper

      As a thought experiment: imagine being on the run and then try to think of what kind of resources, contacts etc might be wanted to have a long and not so harsh life on the run.
      Now, from that list try to figure out what Epstein had and/or didn’t have.

      I cannot quite make sense of the fact that he returned to the US. Granted hindsight might be perfect but the risk of being arrested without any special privileges must surely have been non-neglible and not impossible to see.
      & are there countries in the world who might have refused to extradite him? Maybe they’d have asked for some secrets to be revealed to them in exchange but is/was he really the kind of guy who’d not sell secrets to save his life? Even secrets relating to national security?

      Can’t help but wonder if there are anything else that is now being released as I find it difficult to avoid thinking and reading about this affair…

      Reply
      1. John

        “I can not make sense of the fact that he returned to the US”
        Simple really: hubris, unbridled arrogance, and delusion. Smart dude tho he was, he obviously never read the Greek classics.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Maybe he was promised a “deal” like the one he got in Florida in return for certain privileged information. His death though seems to be sending a message that no matter where you are and what security you are supposed to have, you can be reached. Nowhere is safe for you.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I seem to have missed something. Was there a publicly known danger to him in the States? I mean he had the non-prosecution agreement, and although it had been publicly blasted was there some reason he should have known about the SDNY’s decision to prosecute him? What I’m asking is why should he have not returned to the U.S.? He had properties worth millions of dollars here, in Florida, in New York, in Arizona, and his social circle was here. As far as I have heard his partying did not even slow down after his conviction in Florida. So he came back to the U.S. because there was no reason (that he could have known) for him not to.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Epstein got a free pass for both him and all his associates – illegally – in Florida but New York had him in their sights now. That Florida agreement was only valid in Florida remember and not New York where he had a home. I am going out on a limb here and say that he was probably promised another such deal for New York. He had so much dirt on so many powerful people he probably thought that he would be safe which was why he returned. He thought wrong.

            Reply
    2. Carolinian

      I think we really don’t know what happened. There is supposed to be video of the hallway outside his cell so if someone entered and killed him that should be easy to prove unless the recording has mysteriously disappeared. We aren’t hearing much about that. Perhaps the most mysterious and suspicious thing is how little we have heard.

      Reply
        1. Some Guy in Beijing

          Everything about that deserves questioning, yet I remember some folks chanting U-S-A in a Korean dive bar when the news came out. They called me a communist for not joining them.

          Reply
      1. John k

        I’ve been wondering about video in the hall outside his room, and the lack of any interest in what they might show.

        Reply
  6. Tom Stone

    As someone who both has a badly damaged cervical spine ( I met a drunk driver head on) and who has had some self defense training I was well aware of how unlikely suicide was.
    For what it’s worth, hitting someone in the Hyoid will stop a fight rather quickly…

    Reply
    1. Roxan

      So true about being hit in the hyoid. I used to fence, and once in awhile, a foil would get deflected to poke me there–a gap in the padding sort of guaranteed that. I thought I would never breathe again! Instantly paralyzed by the body’s panic for oxygen. I always tell women to aim for that if in danger. Epstein apparently had bruises, cuts, etc. on his face.He must have known they were coming. Imagine, sitting in that tiny cell waiting to be killed.

      Reply
      1. EoH

        The neck is vulnerable and strikes to it can debilitate or kill, so they are proportionate only when you think your life is threatened.

        One defense to a front throat strike is to drop the chin. Easy, quick, protects the throat, presents a very hard object to the striking hand, and can trap it. There are better techniques to teach newbies.

        Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      hit anyone or anything in the nose or throat hard enough and it won’t want to fight you anymore. Bears, sharks, bobcats, you name it. Problem is, the teeth are right next to the nose and throat (and paws in the instance of bears and bobcats). Best to go for the nose if at all possible.

      Often times a pair of well-made heavy binoculars are your best weapon. Most people can’t throw a rock hard enough to matter.

      Reply
    3. Punts Pete

      Or a ballgame. 8th inning, game 7, 1960 World Series, grounder to Tony Kubek playing short stop for the Yankees. Bad hop. Kubek goes down with a serious injury to his throat. Pirates tie the game in the 8th and win in the 9th on Mazeroski’s home run.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i think the charles hugh smith take is quite damning. altho the immorality and psychopathy and outright evil of so many of our institutions(and their proxies) is well enough known to me, and many others, my hope is that this incident pushes it a little more out into the collective mind.
        in my eavesdropping activity, “suicide? yeah, right” is as bipartisan as anything I’ve seen.
        the broader Legitimacy Crisis(crises) has legs, and it will be interesting to see how the Machine attempts to stuff it back in the bag.
        even my allergic to “conspiracy theory” mom believes he was offed, in spite of the constant drone of msdnc.

        Reply
        1. Tom Stone

          Amfortas, Governments that lose legitimacy have historically resorted to force.
          Thus the 1033 program and “Red Flag”Gun laws, pervasive surveillance and so on.
          It gets real ugly.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i’ve never been under any illusion that transitioning to a different “world order”(let alone a better one) would be anything but ugly.
            the entire history of entities like the cia, fbi, etc indicate clearly that those who benefit the most from the status quo will do anything to prevent it’s undoing.
            numerous foia documents, and other disclosures over the years, give the lie to all the posturing and scolding about democracy and freedom and other comforting myths we so readily lap up.
            but for those of us who genuinely desire a more egalitarian and peaceful world, hoping for the Empire to fall apart is the only game in town, given the power and wealth of the Machine.
            Since I am in rural Texas, I’ve known quite a few would be revolutionaries(Richard McClaren/”republic of texas” happened just to my west)…hoarding guns and thinking to overthrow this or that portion of the unnamed empire.
            Fools, every one.
            one helicopter, with one hellfire, and it’s all over…and that’s not even considering the shadow maneuverings of the Machine to kill such sentiments/activity in the cradle.
            of course, those guys are all right wingers, and are thus allowed to live their lives(and their fantasies), “within reason”.
            let them embrace some degree of democratic socialism, however, and they’ll be on the news without firing a shot.

            even the anarchist/leninist idea of “dual power”…of building alternative institutions in the interstices, so that they will be up and running when the official systems falter…is a hard row to hoe. Machine is aware of such tactics, and has moved to prevent them…usually by requiring a number of some kind, and therefore being plugged into the system in some way.
            what’s left, but one on one, one mind at a time, evangelisation of “another world is possible”…and then patiently trying to stay out of the way of falling debris?

            I dream of secular monasteries in the hinterlands, with libraries and papermaking skills, and a low-tech knowledgebase….

            (in related Jackpot news: wife just ran off to wallyworld(cheap metformin), and asked me before she left about strategy for avoiding shooters(!!)….what to keep in mind, etc.(answer: exits, babe.ignore “associates only” signs and just go)
            if that ain’t a statement about the health of our civilisation, i don’t know what is…no matter the why and wherefore of such phenomena)

            Reply
            1. anon y'mouse

              at least of the those stores i am familiar with, the staff enters through the front door.

              there are the loading bays, and sometimes a side exit. but each of them is an unique maze of narrow hallways. hallways that are often full of people maneuvering in tight spaces with pallets on jacks, carts full of boxes, etc. they can be impassible even with nothing going on in the store at all.

              my guess is that most of the employees would run for the front, unless they are already back there and can avoid a crush by just slipping out.

              you might avoid being shot, but crushed to death down a narrow hallway in a press of bodies with no idea where you are going.

              sorry, grim ideas. you might want to survey the back and sides for likely exits, although that will give you no clue as to how to escape to those exits, since the inside is a near labyrinth, and as i said, each store is unique.

              generally, there is outside accessibility near the meat/deli. that’s all i have for useful behind-the-scenes W-world tips.

              Reply
        2. notabanker

          Yeah, the truth sucks and how it unwinds will not be pleasant. IMNSHO, the TARP bailouts were the beginning of the end. Moral hazard was destroyed and the free for all commenced. The rest has just been the ensuing carnival with it’s ever escalating freak side shows.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Thank you for keeping people’s eyes on the prize, 2007 was the start of a monetary crisis, not simply a banking one, and these can take decades to play out. Most of the other crises are just descendants of the monetary crisis.

            Inquiring minds may want to think first about the gold standard. Nations and their bankers sought to defend their national wealth (their currencies) against that universally-agreed, immutable and impartial benchmark.

            Then came the gold exchange standard. The USD (debt-based paper) creeped onto the stage. You still had a shadow of the consensually-agreed anchor to benchmark and manage your national wealth against.

            Then they unplugged gold altogether, so now in Bizzaro-World everything is supposed to float against everything else. It’s just the race against the bear, where the only one you need to outrun is not the bear but rather the guy next to you. With no anchor left the incentives are inverted: you don’t want to preserve your national wealth (by ensuring your finances and productivity growth are sound) anymore, you’re simply incented to join The Ministry of Silly Walks Stupid Race: a currency war. So you try to make your country richer by making its citizens poorer.

            So all nations just get poorer and poorer, when their money is measured in the only sensible way: how much in goods and services can it be exchanged for. Answer? Less and less, year in and year out. Instead of a competition to see which nation can have the best finances, it’s a competition to see which nation can have the worst. So you win by losing.

            Reply
              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Everybody’s looking at the Chinese yuan, “OMG China is manipulating their currency!”

                No. It’s simply the USD getting stronger, pulling ahead in The Stupid Race. Look at what the Euro’s been doing for the last 14 months: also costing more and more in USD.

                Because: the USD now provides 94% of all available global sovereign bond yield. So if you want to earn even a teeny tiny bit of interest you need to own USD (investment flows far outweigh trade flows). Otherwise: your wealth is simply being confiscated with negative interest rates.

                So the insolvent, diabetic, cancer-ridden, wheelchair-bound Uncle Sam is swerving around in Lane 2…pulling ahead of the others.

                When Money Dies.

                But also note: “Governments lie; bankers lie; even auditors sometimes lie. Gold tells the truth”.

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  “Look at what the Euro’s been doing for the last 14 months: also costing more and more in USD.”

                  Should read: costing less and less

                  Silly me.

                  Reply
            1. Procopius

              … that universally-agreed, immutable and impartial benchmark.

              Whoo boy. I urge you to read Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation. He points out the gold standard required a number of institutions, the most important being the agreement of all European Powers to enforce the Balance of Power. They did manage to work out mutual agreement among themselves before The Great War, but afterwards there was no agreement about what value to assign to gold, which is why Britain (Winston Churchill) set the value of the pound too high. Most monetary standards throughout history, going back to the Sumerians, was silver or grain. As Brad DeLong points out, money is not able to buy things because it is based on things of value, money is valuable because we are able to use it to buy things.

              Reply
              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Not really finding much of a refutation in your comments. Yes the gold standard required agreements to make it work. Nations mispricing their national currency in gold (Churchill et al) was a problem that solved itself (not without disruption). And the semantics line at the end is also not a refutation. We can use a money to buy things because both sides agree that the form of money (cowrie shells, shiny metal etc) has value. But that acceptance comes and goes, I wouldn’t try and buy anything with a Continental. Gold endures.

                Reply
                1. skippy

                  Tell it to history and the new world, next the Spanish, then the English [up start pirates], followed by America [waves at Atlantic treaty], and now the Bond Holders Running to China only to experience Capital controls looking for an exit.

                  There is to much history for everything to be boiled down to gold vs fiat, not that human agency proceeds either.

                  Reply
                2. Yves Smith Post author

                  Countries cheated on the gold standard all the time. Nevertheless, as Mark Blyth and others pointed out, the gold standard favored capital over labor and was deflationary. And it generated financial crises.

                  Gold is volatile, so I have no idea what your “gold endures” means. It’s gone from IRRC ~$670 to the dollar to over $1900 since the crisis.

                  Reply
        3. a different chris

          >my hope is that this incident pushes it a little more out into the collective mind

          Yeah mine too… but there is a lot of evidence that human beings do just the opposite. Yeah if somebody is coming at you with a knife you react. But there’s a lot of unconscious but deliberate obtuseness put on when people are mostly fed and housed. Neimoller’s “not until they came for me” issue is possibly deep-wired.

          Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Speaking of broken neck bones and broken necks, here is a picture of epstein’s former cellmate:

      https://nypost.com/2019/07/25/jailed-ex-cop-questioned-about-jeffrey-epsteins-injuries/

      That would be the one who was supposedly “abruptly” transferred to a different cell a few hours before the suicide. An ex-cop.

      It looks to me like this guy could have picked epstein up and dropped him on his head, or at least dragged him off the top bunk and slammed his head into the floor. And was that screaming supposedly heard coming from the cell ever explained? The authorities are investigating doctored logs, presumably those documenting the times epstein was checked on, but what about the “transfer” documentation?

      Pretty convenient that epstein chose to suicide himself on a night when inexperienced/”overworked” personnel were standing watch. I wonder if they were blood tested for knockout drops prior to being put on “administrative leave.”

      WRT the medical examiner’s report, I recently read a book called “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South” by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington. While the book examines the issue through the lens of racism in Mississippi, it is very critical of the “persistent plague of….. junk forensic science in our criminal justice system.” It’s an eye opener.

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33296669-the-cadaver-king-and-the-country-dentist

      Reply
      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Good grief – there was me believing that people like Epstein were sent to a much more comfortable version of prison, but perhaps normally they are.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          They didn’t dare.

          However: that facility is a jail; many or most of the inmates haven’t been convicted of anything, including Epstein (who had don his time, however risible). It certainly shouldn’t be torturous.

          Reply
      2. Fíréan

        With reference the the NYPost artilce linked in post by Katniss Everdeen .
        Here are some telling quotes :
        ” the sources said.”
        ” sources said.”
        ” one source said.”
        ” sources said.”
        ” sources said.”
        ” sources said.”
        ” sources have said previously.”
        ” sources said.” end quote.

        Which sources said ? Who ? No attribution other than “sources said “that doesn’t give much credit to the story.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is the case with all stories about Epstein save the thin statements from the medical examiner and the public comment by Barr the morning after Epstein was found dead.

          This is also true of tons of stories today. Anonymous sourcing is pretty normal on hot topics. And in this case, no one close to the action would be able to give more of an identifier (“prison guard,” “hospital employee” “member of the medical examiner’s office”) because that would enable someone to track them down.

          The Post story I cited from the Washington Post relied on two anonymous sources.

          Having said that, a single source is worrisome. You want to see at least two sources.

          Reply
          1. Fíréan

            Is that why the singular and anonymous source of information, posted on the ‘net before MSM reported Epstein’s “death”, alleging the possible body swap of Epstein, and repudedly from within the prison complex, is not acceptable ?

            Fíréan

            Reply
  7. Antifa

    The title of ‘most dangerous place in the world’ has almost always belonged to Kashmir, since the 1947 independence and partition of India. A region full of glacier-fed rivers that flow into China, Pakistan, and India was never going to be a quiet corner of the world. The fight over who controls those rivers has now begun.

    Yes, there are demographic and historical disputes aplenty over who and when and where the population was majority Muslim or Hindu. That hasn’t really mattered to Kashmiris, for centuries. That isn’t the crux of the issue. Any explanation of India’s sudden military annexation of Kashmir that doesn’t talk about the 26 tributaries of Kashmir’s Indus river system is either distraction or is ignoring the elephant in the room. India has acted like an amateur dacoit in this event — easily seizing the estate at gunpoint, but completely flummoxed about what to do with the people living there.

    The real risk of nuclear war exists here, and it must be noted that this includes China. Since no one can win a nuclear exchange, it’s far more likely that military confrontations will be conventional. In this regard, China can easily overwhelm India or Pakistan or both, and impose a settlement in this region by force.

    Martial law cannot continue without starving people in their homes, so some relaxation of the current terror must come. As soon as it does, rebellion will roll across the region in every form it can take, requiring the whole world’s attention to keep it from boiling over multiple borders.

    India has grabbed the brass ring for now, but can never hold on to it. Neither China nor Pakistan can let them hold on to it. As always in the bloody history of this region, this will be settled with the sword. As always in the history of this region, any such peace will not last.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      So it’s basically a resource driven conflict—a water war in this instance. Makes sense to materialist me. Brings to mind Sartre’s concise observation as to the basis of conflict: “Human groupings encounter each other in fields of scarcity.” Conflict or solidarity based on metaphysical notions is just the cover story to manipulate the daft and the gullible.

      Reply
      1. Antifa

        The Indus River Treaty of 1960 seems to have run its course — India is taking almost all its water allotment, and now needs to take more from Pakistan. Meanwhile, China controls the headwaters of the Indus River.

        Dogs fighting over a bone . . .

        Reply
    1. Bruce F

      looks like I forgot to close the link tag. Normally there’s an edit function lasting 5 minutes, but not this time.

      Sorry for the mess.

      Reply
  8. Olga

    On Putin (Independent) – good to see an objective view of VVP – one that tries to elucidate, rather than judge and condemn. I think this is one crucial point: “He has a keen sense of Russia’s national dignity, and what is expected of him as national figurehead and leader.” Listening to VVP, this sense of a responsibility or obligation to his nation comes out very strongly. And just on these two points, he is miles above most of western leaders (who tend to serrve just a sliver of their populations).
    The conclusion is not hopeful – “Even so, it is hard not to feel that, if only the west had tried to understand Putin and his country better – not indulge, but understand – the international outlook could look more hopeful today. Instead, we created a Putin in a largely Soviet image, after our own arrogance and fears. What a tragic waste of opportunities and time.”
    Of course, it did not have to be this way – but it seems to me that the ability of western powers to see the rest of the world, including Russia and VVP, as equals (and act accordingly) will not happen short a fundamental transformation of these western societies.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Surprisingly even handed treatment of Putin here. I wonder if they are wanting to play nice with him as China is being seen as the threat now. It was funny how they described him as “once a KGB man, always a KGB man” as you could also say of George H. W. Bush as “once a CIA man, always a CIA man”.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      The wind up

      Instead, we created a Putin in a largely Soviet image, after our own arrogance and fears. What a tragic waste of opportunities and time.

      Is more than a bit naive if not disingenuous. The Russia menace was always exaggerated going back to long before Putin. Secret agencies such as the CIA and MI-6 need an enemy to justify their existence and budgets and therefore mysterious, far away Russia was picked to fit the bill. From their point of view the current Russia hysteria is mission accomplished.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        You’re right, but the ‘mission accomplished’ in no way signifies the end of it. Sometimes it seems to me like the blob is just getting started.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Perhaps more appropriately, the ‘blob’ never finishes what it starts. It just loses interest and moves on to another ‘adventure.’ Someone else can clean up the mess. That way, all those “someone else’s” are constantly busy, and thus incapable of mounting a concerted counter to the ‘blob’s’ activities.
          Basically, the “Intelligence Services” act like spoiled children, with guns.

          Reply
      2. Camp Lo

        Turns out, Stalin? Nice guy. You could not meet a kinder Osset gentleman. His nom de guerre “Koba the Dread”, just irony like guys named “Tiny”. Centuries of intrigue in Central Asia? Pfft. The Spanish Armada? Napoleon? Totally made up for budgetary reasons. Did you know the KGB made up the CIA so Khrushchev could sneak in to Disneyland? The jig was up when Werner Von Braun jumped out of the bushes, and said, “Dora? What Dora? I was in Austria.” Because it turns out the whole Great Patriotic War was in the snowglobe of an Autistic child. Mind blown.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            An Ayn Randian phenomenology training text.
            Roughly speaking the engram presented states that: “History is a consensual illusion.”

            Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      Trying to divine from the tea leaves what is really going on, I have to wonder if this somewhat favorable treatment of Putin in a UK publication is linked in any way to this nugget from yesterday’s links. From Asia Times regarding a UK tanker recently captured by Iran:

      Asked what the United States would do to help retrieve the vessel of its ally, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to wash his hands of the incident: “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to care of their ships,” he said.

      Perhaps the UK is looking for some new friends with the rough treatment they’re getting from old ones and a crash out Brexit looming.

      Reply
  9. Enrico Malatesta

    The NSA collects everything through the ‘Five Eyes’ – every electronic transmission is “foreign” to at least one of the ‘Five Eyes’ and the NSA (plus Israel) has access to all data collected.

    The request by Trump is an act of deception.

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Farmers Reel After Sonny Perdue Mocks Them As ‘Whiners’ Amid Trade War Bankruptcies”

    I suspect that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has not really thought things through here. A small story – back in 1979 there was a historical building in Brisbane called the Bellevue Hotel which most people wanted preserved. The hard-right State government at the time had the whole building knocked down in the middle of the night despite people’s protests. A Minister was present and he was mocking the protestors until somebody pulled him aside and pointed out that all those people as well as all the other people that wanted the building preserved also had the vote. He thought about it for a moment, and then started worrying. So should Sonny Perdue.

    Reply
    1. MichaelSF

      I don’t think anyone but various members of the Senate “voted” for Perdue (at his confirmation hearing). He’s got nothing to worry about.

      It is unlikely he’ll be a pauper if the public outrage is enough that he has to resign to spend more time with his family (who are probably glad to see less of him)?

      Reply
  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    I have an answer to this:

    Second, then there needs to be a tax in advanced economies to reflect the proper pricing of carbon for imports and imported content from developing countries that won’t impose carbon pricing.

    The implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) already has a mechanism to do this.

    When companies export, the VAT is refunded, and then assessed on the import if that country has a VAT.

    So, if a €35,000.00 car is exported from Germany to France, the €6,650.00 German tax is refunded upon export, and the €7,000.00 VAT is assessed in France upon import.

    You could do the same thing with carbon, though the accounting might be a little bit more complex. (I would favor using the ration of carbon consumption to GDP to figure this).

    It would also have the effect of placing a tax for the country-of-convenience bullsh%$ that companies pull on their own IP to avoid taxes.

    Reply
    1. Briny

      My analysis as well, it you want it to function properly. However, given the interests involved, what are the chances of that? Externalities must be priced in, and not just carbon. This engineer has always thought along these lines. Global application of the Class theorem.

      Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      +1 First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win

      We are firmly in Phase 3 at this point. Phase 4 starts February 3 in Iowa.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        We aren’t even at the beginning of the fight. When Bernie wins the nomination the Tom Perez wing of the party will mount a massive effort to sabotage his campaign. So we will just have to out organize that. And when Bernie wins in November the kleptocracy will strike back and try to do to the US what the Venezuelan oligarchs did to Venezuela. So I hope Bernie has a plan for that.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I suspect that, if the scenario we all fear the most begins to look like it is coming, that Sander’s campaign will shepherd his support base to go out and purchase automatic rifles and lots of ammo, because it will have to come to that for any meaningful change to happen here if the Powers do indeed start to play ‘hardball’ dirty tricks on his campaign.
          When the Supreme Court stole the election from Al Gore, he had a real choice to make. He chose to roll over and submit. He could have called on his supporters to stop the country dead in it’s tracks with a general strike or a similar tactic. Remembering that Gore was an original member of the DLC, along with Clinton et. al. The chances of him “thinking outside the box” were slim to none. The Supreme Court, and whoever they worked for made that calculation and figured that the Gore campaign would not be a problem concerning the silent coup being contemplated. They were right then. I hope that Sanders is made of sterner stuff. However, if Sanders is screwed out of the candidacy again and does nothing, there will be someone or someones even scarier to the Satus Quo waiting in the wings to step up and carry the torch that Sanders drops. In what direction those putative Scions of Bernie carry said torch, I have no idea. That’s the fun bit about the future; it is unknowable.

          Reply
          1. cm

            When the Supreme Court stole the election from Al Gore, he had a real choice to make.

            Recall that Gore couldn’t even win his own state. Tennessee had 11 votes. Gore lost 266 to Bush’s 271. Had Gore actually won his own state, he would have been President. Blaming senile Florida voters was a very lame tactic.

            Reply
            1. pretzelattack

              it wasn’t senile florida voters, it was the fixed results, based on flawed diebold algorithms, that were rightly blamed. they disenfranchised a lot of voters based on wrongly identifying voters as felons.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                That and tens of thousands of democrat voters going missing off the computer tallies after voting and reappearing on Republican or like candidates without the democrats raising so much as a squawk.

                Reply
    2. grayslady

      Also, if you look at the pollsters and “journalists” who claim Bernie’s support is mostly from millenials, they obviously are trying to ignore the campaign donor information available on sites like Open Secrets. The number one “occupation” of Bernie’s supporters, listed on Open Secrets, is “Retired.”

      Reply
  12. Ignacio

    Re: How Life Sciences Actually Work: Findings of a Year-Long Investigation Alexey Guzey (Bryan )

    The scope of the article is Biomedical Sciences rather than Life Sciences. Yet I agree with many of the conclusions.

    Reply
  13. Thomas Connors


    Thought experiment – Summer Camp for All rather than Universal Basic Income
    Here’s a thought – municipalities and non-profits would build lots of housing and food courts for those in need, and in exchange people would work to build and maintain the housing and food courts and do any work needed such as teaching and health care and construction of improved streets for biking and transit. People would be free to do the work they want, the work they enjoy and gives them satisfaction. There would be many work opportunities such as day care, elder care, operating the transit system etc. Cars would be available in a pool for work-related needs but people would live in bike-able walk-able transit friendly density and not need a car for their daily needs.

    There would be very little cost to this scheme, as most costs are due to labor, but that would now be free and provided by the residents. I am calling it Summer Camp because that is a place where everyone is busy and happy and active and contributes – there is social pressure to get up and get out and do something fun and productive and not just lay about in your bed all day. Also, in summer camp, it is owned collectively and everyone is proud of their camp and people won’t litter or make a mess – they feel affection and ownership of their summer camp. People also are closer to nature and doing environmentally destructive acts that benefit only a few such as building a big house in the wetland would be seen as greedy and negative and counter to the collective use and environmental purpose the wetland.

    This summer camp system would benefit students, researchers, writers, artists, musicians, performers, scientists, therapists and those who want to focus on doing public-focused service without the stress of housing or food.

    Our current economic system is based upon payments and possibly saving for the future for your retirement – in summer camp we collectively acknowledge we will take care of each other at every stage of life – people would do work that interests them such as day care, being a teacher, caring for the sick and elderly and those in need. Everyone gets what they need without worry.

    Questions / doubts: How would the paying economy be affected by so many people migrating to the free summer camp system? If you people lived with dignity in nice housing and had good food by doing any supply chain work needed, then who would work for profit-focused businesses? Who would work in the rich man’s restaurant and mow his lawn and clean his house? The suburban life in America is based upon a large pool of people to do low paid dead-end service work. Who would do undesirable work such as fracking when we would have lots of people working to build solar and wind electricity facilities and storage and transmission systems – if we focus on doing all the good work needed, and we no longer have the threat of financial ruin from losing a job – who would do undesirable jobs – or even would people still be focused on doing a good job and being on time? Would all the free food and housing and optional choose-your-own-job let people off the hook and they would become lazy and not work much? Would people still serve each other in restaurants or would it be more of a family-style buffet?

    Endless possibilities and questions!

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      The US problem is build-able land: Single Family Residental Zoning, and NIMBYism.

      The US land used in cities expanded since WWII is their incredible wasteful land use, designed for cars, which translates huge cost in acquiring single family residences en-mass to build higher density housing.

      The best solution I can see is the destruction of coastal cities by rising sea levels, and European style high density cities as replacement dwellings.

      Alternatively we can copy the 3rd world system in having massive overcrowded slums, which appears to me to be the US trajectory, thanks to out benevolent finance industry now owning massive tracts of decaying housing.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        there is a investor owned vacant housing unit for every homeless person. the problem is not NIMBY or zoning, the problem is capitalism.

        Reply
        1. Synoia

          The investor owner house is probably a rental. Is is unlikely to be unoccupied.

          You are now discussing the asymmetry of wealth, and inequality. Not zoning or build-able land.

          Reply
          1. cm

            There are abandoned towns in Missouri and Iowa. I concur w/ dcblogger, the issue isn’t a lack of housing. Rust belt houses are dirt cheap, but there are no jobs. The problem is in fact a feature of oligarchy. I don’t think anyone here thinks America practices capitalism.

            Reply
    2. tegnost

      hmmm…endless possibilities? I don’t think so…endless possibilities for exploitation, you do mention “free labor”. I also get a kick out of …”if you people lived with dignity in nice housing…”. Which people are the you people you are talking about? Having lots of people building solar, wind farms etc sounds like jobs guarantee, which is of course a way better idea as then the wasteland of suburbia and corporatopia would have to pay as much for labor as the JG provides and people could have their life where they want it, not in a “camp”. “Would all the free food and housing…” Like I said above, and to clarify, it’s not free labor for free stuff, it’s labor for stuff, and in a camp setting that looks a lot like “work camp” not “summer camp”. So my thoughts are that this is a worse idea than even a basic income would be.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Thank you. I thought the “summer camp” framing was seriously
        misleading. Here in USA USA? Heh!

        “Here, pull the other one.”

        Reply
  14. Synoia

    David Keith’s Carbon Removal Moonshot

    Uses electricity to remove Carbon Dioxide.

    This works in British Colombia, because of their Hydro generated electricity. It might work where there are wind farms.

    In both Hydro and Wind producing regions, If, and only if, there is a surplus of electricity available over normal electricity demand, the system is possible.

    Possible is some distance from feasible.

    It cannot work where there are CO2 emitting power stations. The thermodynamics clearly states that one cannot remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than a fossil fuel power station emits, it would be nice, but there are no “free lunches.”

    Technically: (Exothermic reaction (burning) > David Keith’s Carbon Removal Moonshot (removing CO2).

    In actual practice:

    (Endothermic reaction / Exothermic Reaction) << 50%. Second law of thermodynamics.

    Efficiency is probably around 20% to 25%.

    Reply
  15. Yves Smith Post author

    Dear patient readers,

    I had to rip out a comment by an obvious troll. Readers reacted accordingly and some made appropriately dismissive retorts. However, to remove the original comment, I had to remove the replies, otherwise it would break nesting for all other comments. Apologies.

    Reply
  16. Burritonomics

    Re: The Bloomberg Opinion article: “Trump Recession Trend Is Going to Stick”

    From the piece: “Trump came into office in the midst of a robust recovery from the financial crisis, with an economy operating at close to full strength” (emphasis mine)

    Comedy gold! Always good to start the day with a chuckle.

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      Yeah this isn’t really an expansion so much as a ratcheting up slowly of a massive slack. It could keep running for a long time in dogg years. Sort of like an energizer snail.

      Reply
    2. DK

      I often like Ritholtz, but this piece seems like just a cheap Trump smear and the usual suffocating mainstream wisdom.

      “Mainstream economists have been warning that Navarro was in over his head and that his unsound trade theories would cause economic problems. Indeed, the Navarro brand of protectionism has already had a number of damaging economic consequences, blunted for now only by the momentum of the economic boom Trump inherited.”

      Because the unsound trade theories of mainstream economists have never hurt anyone, or had any conceivable damaging economic consequences. Yet another comfortable, arrogant fool defending the status quo ante Trump. The whole article reads like that.

      Reply
  17. Amfortas the hippie

    as is my practice when i take a painday, i’m rummaging in the links in the margins of the articles found here, and come across 2 that struck me:
    https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2019/07/french-elites-against-working-class

    FTA:” Guilluy despises the extreme right but reserves his greatest contempt for a new kind of class which, he says, has evolved in the “New Citadels”. He uses the word “Bobo” to describe them. This term was popularised by the American conservative commentator David Brooks at the turn of the century to describe the urban yuppies who have since mutated into the contemporary hipster. It is an abbreviation of “bourgeois bohemian” or “bourgeois bohème”.

    For Guilluy this group is more of a political caucus encompassing the professional classes – academics, journalists, media workers and so on – who think of themselves as liberal-left but who are entitled and superior in manner. “These are the people who voted for Macron,” says Guilluy. “And they are arrogant enough not only to believe that you should think like them, but that they are always morally superior and always right.”

    Guilluy also describes the Bobos as “La Gauche Hashtag”. He says their policies do nothing for the working class – whose problems are low wages, job insecurity and poor social housing – and that instead they revel in virtue-signalling of the crassest kind. He cites Anne Hidalgo’s Paris administration as a prime example of a Bobo government, which is endlessly congratulating itself on its cycle lanes, its “myths of diversity” and social media activism, which Guilluy renames “clicktivism” – the art of looking like an activist while doing nothing much at all. ”

    defining the enemy is important…and the american analogs of that bunch are a large part of the problem in getting anything done to ameliorate the dysfunction.

    and this:https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/08/eric-hobsbawm-peering-darkly-future
    about a guy I’ve heard about but know next to nothing about…but he was an admirer of Gramsci,who i think is woefully overlooked in much of our discourse.
    fta:” It was essentially Gramsci’s influence that lay behind Hobsbawm’s famous article “The Forward March of Labour Halted?” in 1978, which pointed out that the industrial working class had begun to decline, necessitating collaboration with other elements in society if socialism were ever to be achieved. It was clear to him that the typical Labour Party member in Britain was not a manual labourer any more, but just as likely to be a college lecturer. ”

    tickles my Inner Wobbly.

    i wish i had more of a book budget(and the time(unmedicated time, perhaps) to read)
    ..although i did finally get Virgil’s Georgics, which has been on the list for decades.that sort of thing is a very large reason for the shady patio and table in the garden.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I think Macron’s gilets jaunes strategy is the model for China’s Hong Kong problem. GJ started with 70% national approval but people soon tired of the disruptions. Beijing can simply outwait and outlast the HK faithful.

      Reply
    2. MichaelSF

      I may be the only one who has this happen, but my first thought at seeing ” at the turn of the century” is to think of 1900. I guess I’m stuck in the 20th century (unlike Duck Dodgers who is in the 24th and 1/2 century).

      https://vimeo.com/64344734

      Reply
  18. WheresOurTeddy

    The quiet death of the “white Bernie Bro” attack Carl Beijer (UserFriendly)

    only 49% of Sanders supporters are white, compared with 56% of Biden voters, 59% of Harris voters, and a remarkable 71% of Warren voters.

    Sounds like Liz has an African-American problem AND a Working Class problem…

    Reply
  19. Peter Dorman

    I wonder what it is about climate change that allows or even motivates people to write patently irrational nonsense. So a geologist in Texas says making carbon fuels more expensive won’t work because people in poor countries can’t afford more expensive energy. His answer is that we give up trying to suppress the use of these fuels and funnel lots of resources into land use changes and carbon removal. Assuming this strategy would even work (a very big assumption, see below), there are two possibilities. (1) Subsidizing these solutions will prove to be cheaper than suppressing fossil fuels; it’s all win-win-win-win-win. (2) Subsidizing them is more expensive, but we choose to do it because of concern for people in low income countries. If (1) is correct the argument has nothing at all to do with the rest of the world; we should do it no matter what. If (2) is correct we should still suppress fossil fuel use by ourselves and direct the cost savings to poor countries to subsidize whatever solutions they choose, since there is only one atmosphere and everyone needs to participate. However, there are plenty of reasons to believe this geologist is making a bet on land use and carbon removal that has very poor odds. On carbon removal, see the two reports of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      So a geologist in Texas says making carbon fuels more expensive…

      Who’s paying the (or any) geologist in Texas?

      Reply
  20. JAMES GRAHAM

    I speculate that Epstein was financed by foreign intelligence. Eric Margolis has convincingly proposed he ran a “honey pot” operation in a luxurious Manhattan mansion which would have produced blackmail material.

    http://www.unz.com/emargolis/the-honey-trap-on-e-71st/

    Others have expressed doubt that Epstein’s wealth was from Wall Street but foreign intelligence would have the resources needed to finance a blackmail operation.

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      Seems pretty clear he was a blackmail front for Mossad and CIA at a minimum. No news related to his death is credible, including that he is actually dead. No one in the press will know the truth.

      Reply
    2. Fíréan

      Epstein’s major client was Leslie Wexner who had reputed connections to the “Mob”.

      Such was recorded in an official report into the murder of Arthur Shapiro. Though said report was believed to have been destroyed by the Columbus Police Chief back in 1991. has resurfaced : “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis”. The report details the embarassing connections of Wexner and other public figures.

      https://freepress.org/article/shapiro-murder-file-0
      ( a good article and worth the full long read )

      Shapiro was a partner in the now-defunct Columbus law firm of Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren, the law firm “represented the Limited,” the Les Wexner company.
      In the same time frame Wexner met the New York financier Jeffery Epstein and handed over sweeping controls of all his finances.
      The report, and article at the link given here, do not refer Epstein nor to any activity at that time between Epstein and Wexner, yetreports Wexner ‘s reputed mob connections.

      ” Columbus Alive obtained a copy of the “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis” report through a public records request on Friday. As previously reported in Alive, the report confirms that the name of central Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner was linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures.” ” /end quote.

      Things don ‘t happen in a vacuum.

      Reply
  21. Olga

    Facial recognition becoming ‘epidemic’ in British public spaces Yahoo (Kevin W)
    Would wearing a wide-rim hat and sunglasses defeat this new wonder?
    Or do we have to resort to those masks folks wear for the Mardi Gras balls?

    Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    Saw something pretty unusual I thought, a lake snake swimming in Mosquito Lake # 2 @ 9,600 feet in Mineral King. I never knew they could be so high up in altitude and survive a winter where the shallow body of water freezes over with 20 feet of snow on top, but there it was doing the backstroke. It was a Mountain Gartersnake.

    Reply
  23. ewmayer

    “What the next Democratic president should learn from the Trumpocalypse | The Week” (UserFriendly) — Some good stuff about playing political hardball, but also some silly Dem-tribalist delusions, invocation of the norms fairy, and prattle about Obama’s greatest failure being drastic reductions of budget deficits in his 2nd term. That latter claim links to a 2014 article which opens thusly:

    “Ever since 2009, when the recession and the stimulus package pushed the annual budget deficit to a peak of nearly $1.5 trillion, it has been falling steadily. Last year it came in at $680 billion; this year it is projected to total $492 billion.”

    That is using the phony-baloney “headline deficit numbers”, so let’s look at the actual ones, shall we? Here are the total-new-debt-issuance numbers for the past 10 FYs, rounded to the nearest $0.01T:

    FY ending 9/30 of year Total Debt Outstanding
    2018 $1.27T
    2017 $0.67T
    2016 $1.42T
    2015 $0.33T
    2014 $1.09T
    2013 $0.67T
    2012 $1.28T
    2011 $1.23T
    2010 $1.65T
    2009 $1.89T

    If we treat 2014-2017 as the numbers for Obama’s 2nd term we see that yes, the deficits were falling relative to the sky-high GFC-bailout years, but still averaged nearly $1 trillion per year. That amount could accomplish a lot of socially useful stuff, but interestingly roughly equals the total budget for the military-industrial-surveillance complex. And the Fed’s brutal interest-rate suppression during the same span amounted to an annual transfer of (IIRC) $300-400 billion from savers to Big Finance. Priorities, priorities.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “Twitter SUSPENDS Scaramucci for calling Trump ‘the fattest President since William Howard Taft’ | Daily Mail (resilc)” — Oh goody, more fun for this stats nerd!

      According to this site, Trump’s BMI is right around 30, on the borderline between overweight and clinically obese.

      The BMI for a typical adult American male is 28.6, according to the CDC – but that is averaged over all adults, whereas the average BMI rises with age. For American men over 60 the incidence of obesity is aound 40%, so Trump is in good company. Anyhow, according to this presidential-stats site, DJT is indeed the fattest president since Taft, but his BMI is a full 12 notches lower and interestingly is about the same as that of Taft’s predecessor Teddy “Fatso” Roosevelt. Trump’s 30-point-something BMI is only modestly higher than that of Bill Clinton, and Trump is a lot older than Clinton was at the time of his POTUSship.

      @Joey above: According to that Pres-stats site I linked, Hoover ranks just below Clinton.

      Reply
      1. Joey

        I stand corrected. Poor Hoover was even lighter than Clinton? Unwarranted besmirchment on my part. Apologies to Herb….

        Reply
  24. skippy

    In other news ….

    Americans are bombarded with non-stop news on Hong Kong and Moscow rallies, but how come mass protests in Honduras and Brazil aren’t high on the agenda? Lee Camp looks at why the US corporate media are keeping mum on the subject.

    Honduras, a Latin American nation of nine million people, has been hit by massive unrest, with people venting anger at pro-US President Orlando Hernandez. The wave of violent demonstrations saw the US diplomatic mission attacked by protesters – but the American mainstream media didn’t say a word about it, Camp pointed out, speaking on Redacted Tonight.

    “Protesters are literally burning the US embassy because we installed a f******d [Hernandez] rule over them, how is that non-news?” he wondered.

    Hondurans are rightfully furious about “the neoliberal austerity measures supported by our country and the IMF.” It caused massive layoffs, increased costs of basic goods and essentially made their lives suck down there, Camp reminded viewers. – snip

    https://www.rt.com/news/466728-lee-camp-honduras-brazil/

    Reply
  25. Tomonthebeach

    Trumpocalypse. “they [Dems] have every right to fight fire with fire.”

    That is truly foolish. Cooper should have said; “fight fire with legislation.” The next president needs to start welding shut these disastrous authoritarian abuses of power, most of which have never been challenged. We used to trust our presidents – no more – not after Bush’s Middle East fiasco and everything we have suffered through since, including a WS-fabricated recession abetted by the FED, the current stagnant economy, and the burgeoning American oligarchy. Only laws curtail behavior as we saw in the case of Kelly Conway and the Hatch act LOL. Okay – thoughtful laws that anticipate people like Trump.

    Reply
  26. barrisj

    Re: national media and Bernie Sanders…has anyone noticed that the tired “centrist” /rightist shibboleth regarding “class warfare” has somehow gone missing this coming election season? This meme, which had been for years the go-to pejorative directed toward progressives and others who actually understand the so-obvious stratification of contemporary Murkan life, now has seemingly beaten a retreat, joining “dirty f**cking hippies”, “hard-hats”, and even – mirabile dictu – “playing the race-card”, as familiar tropes employed by TPTB and the media in defense of their privilege within and caricaturization of respectively contemporary US socio-political realities. Why do you think that is?

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Methinks they’re worried that ‘class war’ might sound real good to much of the ‘flyover’ heartlands right about now…

      Reply
  27. DK

    What the next Democratic President should learn from the Trumpocalypse The Week

    More comedy gold:

    “Of course, one wouldn’t want Democrats to adopt similar goals, and neither should they resort to outright illegality (as Republicans very often do). But they have every right to fight fire with fire when it comes to say, protecting immigrants or the environment, attacking monopoly power, boosting unions, and so forth.”

    Is there anyone still in their right mind who can imagine Democrats fighting for any of these things? Except maybe on immigration, since that helps them accomplish the only thing they do care about, even though deportations were higher under Obama.

    “Indeed, not doing so directly enables Republican extremism, by making it clear they will actually benefit from Democratic timidity.”

    This is by design. And when a Republican president can’t achieve welfare reform, or Nafta, or bank bailouts, or Social Security reform (we’ll see…) because they are too extreme, a Democrat always follows as a cleanup batter, to liberal cheers.

    Reply
    1. flora

      I think the current DNC Wall St. estab will push for as much financial predation as they can get away with, no matter how dangerously it squeezes their voters. I think this will go on until their voters stop waiting for the Dem estab to act and start acting for themselves – as was true in the Great Depression.

      http://www.iptv.org/iowapathways/mypath/great-depression-hits-farms-and-cities-1930s

      https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/money_11.html

      Nebraska and Iowa were Republican states; if govt (or at least the Dem party then) was seeing signs of anarchy and revolt at economic policies that favored farmers Wall St. oppressors, that was a danger signal to the whole country. FDR did not enact his New Deal policies out of philosophy or ‘good-guy-ism’, imo. FDR enacted the New Deal policies because the country was a hair-breadth away from breakdown and anarchy. The farmers and small businessmen acted to save themselves and FDR and the Fed. Govt. followed, imo

      Today, all that knowledge has been air brushed out of ‘everybody knows’ history today. I mention this as a reminder of something important: waiting for the DNC to ‘go first’ to address the real economic problems for most people caused by predatory finance is futile – the people have to act first, imo. Shorter: stop waiting for the Dem party and start doing what needs done as you can. Maybe the party will catch up.

      Hungry men (remember men were the family breadwinners then), unemployed men, evicted men were starting their own response in common after waiting patiently, responsibly for the govt to act on their behalf. When the govt ignored their plight… FDR was elected and did act on their behalf. Good thing, too, imo. If the DNC thinks it can go on ignoring the plight of the bottom half or three-quarters of the economic conditions of their voters, why they are no better than Herbert Hoover* was in 1932.

      * note: Herbert Hoover was an extraordinary humanitarian who kept Belgium and the low countries from starving in WWI, among his many notable achievements. His reliance on Wall St. advisors and old-think (individual failures unconnected to systemic financial predations) wasn’t capable of dealing with the Great Depression. I think the DNC and the Dem estab are following Hoover’s footsteps today.

      Reply
      1. DK

        I didn’t know that about Hoover. I’ll have to read up on him. All I tend to recall about him are the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, his reluctance to do anything about lynching, and the violent attack on the “Bonus Army” by heroes like MacArthur and Patton. And Hoovervilles, of course.

        Reply
        1. DK

          Hoover might be a very useful image to have in mind for the future. A bright, accomplished, credentialed, well-meaning man who was overwhelmed by events and couldn’t break out of his own limitations to deal with a fundamentally changed environment. I suspect our future will be full of them. In the best case.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Would you believe that Herbert Hoover once worked in Australia as a mining engineer along with other countries? Wasn’t exactly Mr Popularity though. From Wikipedia-

            “Hoover brought in many Italian immigrants to cut costs and counter the labour movement of the Australian miners. During his time with the mining company, Hoover became opposed to measures such as a minimum wage and workers’ compensation, feeling that they were unfair to owners.”

            So even at a young age his mindset was in place. Eventually he fought with his bosses and had to be moved to China just in time for the Boxer rebellion. If he had been re-elected in 1932, god knows what would have happened to the United States.

            Reply
            1. flora

              “Hoover brought in many Italian immigrants to cut costs and counter the labour movement of the Australian miners.”

              So, open borders, then? Abolish ICE? Like I was saying about the current US Dem estab…. ;-)

              Reply
          2. EoH

            Well-meaning from a certain perspective. Hoover’s post-presidential career as the omnipresent eminence grise at Stanford suggests he was an unrepentant, arch-conservative, authoritarian, and proto-neoliberal.

            Reply
      1. UserFriendly

        Lol I just used that exact phrasing a few days ago trolling the wannabe LtGov of MS for a dumb message on twitter.
        https://twitter.com/UserFrIENDlyyy/status/1161526194778628099

        A gentle reminder, don’t think too hard about politics. They just have different preferences like for coke or pepsi. It’s not like selecting either one of these will have any effect on your life because that isn’t who they work for. They work for the billionaires who pay them.

        Reply
  28. The Rev Kev

    “Obama Cautioned Biden About Running for President: “You Don’t Have to Do This, Joe””

    If I was Obama and realized that my “legacy” depended on the fortunes of good old uncle Joe, I would be a very worried man too.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Joe is running as a continuation of O’s admin. People are starting to re-examine the true legacy of O’s admin, (sans the glamour of the first-whatever-pres ). Maybe, in the the cold-light-of-morning, a re-examination O’s admin policies show they aren’t all that great. If Joe dropped out of the pres race then the re-examination of O’s admin would stop, and maybe O would prefer the re-examination stops. ;-)

      Reply
  29. Jeff W

    Bernie Sanders’ Media Beef Is Legitimate, But the Press Can’t Admit It Rolling Stone
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    What I find fascinating about this latest “controversy” concerning the media—which is simply blindingly obvious fact to anyone who is not paid not to see it—is how the media, in defensively tripping all over itself to deny what’s plain on its face, can’t help but demonstrate Sanders’s point over and over again. It’s like how, in classical psychoanalysis, you unwittingly, inevitably reveal through your defense mechanisms what you’re unconsciously trying to hide.

    There’s that whole strawman argument of Jeff Bezos, from his volcano lair, issuing mandated talking points and off-limit topics, sort of like the directives and “guidance” for China’s media coming out of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the State Council Information Office. No one, least of all Bernie Sanders, makes that argument but these media geniuses can think only in the simplest, most black-and-white terms. (And, yet, they’re supposed to be the ones explaining to us “how things work.”)

    So, they unwittingly reveal how unconscious they are of the actual reinforcements and constraints on their behavior—if there aren’t any actual memos from Jeff Bezos or Randall Stephenson (CEO of AT&T) or Brian L. Roberts (CEO of Comcast) or, for that matter, any of the reportedly 232 media executives who “control the information of 277 million Americans,” dictating just how they should report, then, according to those in the corporate media, it just ain’t happening.

    Taibbi:

    Media companies run by the country’s richest people can’t help but project the mindset of their owners, and they are naturally incompetent when it comes to viewing their own role in society.

    In sum: a $10 million per year anchor for a Comcast subsidiary brings on employees of Bezos and Rupert Murdoch to ask if the press has a problem covering billionaires – and concludes it does not.

    Taibbi calls that “circling wagons”—and overtly it is—but it’s more than that. Can anyone, except for those embedded in the corporate media culture, not see this response as a stunning affirmation of exactly what Sanders is talking about? These media outlets, unsurprisingly, support the agenda of their owners and, while supposedly rebutting Sanders, can’t even see how they’re reinforcing it. That’s some “double-order” unconsciousness right there. If I had some naïve view about the role the corporate media “should” play, I might be all bent out of shape about this—but I don’t and I’m not. I’m just glad it’s playing right into Sanders’s hands.

    Reply
  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a hopeful article from Scientific American by way of Reddit, about big and major coal plants now being retired from the electricity production lineup.
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/and-now-the-really-big-coal-plants-begin-to-close/

    How many millions of people would need to reduce their millions of personal uses of electricity and natural gas to prevent gas from going back up in price before the coal plants are shut down and the thermal coal industry goes into roach motel liquidation?

    Not to say para-political and para-social action isn’t needed and helpful too. Any natgas prevented from reaching any liquification and export terminal remains within the US to help keep prices low enough to keep encouraging the sunsetting of thermal coal.

    Reply
  31. Another Amateur Economist

    Regarding:Huge Survey of Firmware Finds No Security Gains In 15 Years

    Public security is a public good. Private interest capitalism cannot provide it.

    And this, of course, is just another instance of privatized policing, so loved by libertarians because it is so useless to the exploitable masses, and so valuable to the exploiting elites.

    Reply
  32. kareninca

    I have a friend who works with bones for a living. Usually very old ones, but sometimes recent ones. I emailed him the above reasoning re Epstein’s neck bones. He wrote back:

    “The hyoid is fragile and easy to break if pressure is exerted against it. It’s in the throat, not the neck in the narrow sense, so the pressure would have to come from the front. The cervical vertebrae would be harder to break, and the pressure would have to come from the back. Why hasn’t someone — the WaPo or whoever — specified whether some cervicals were broken, since it could make a big difference. Epstein’s lawyers had their own pathologist at the autopsy, a former NYC ME, so maybe they’ll say.”

    He left it at that, probably because he really, really doesn’t want to think that Epstein was murdered. He is really committed to the position that it was a suicide. Because that’s less weird and disturbing. But I think that the info that was posted here has taken him aback.

    Reply

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