Links 8/19/19

This bat-friendly town turned the night red MNN

Give Your Yard Back to Nature Popular Mechanics. Once-fringe idea goes mainstream. It’s a good idea, too.

Scam Alert: Using Voice Search? Use Caution When Asking for Auto Dial from Your Smart Device Better Business Bureau. If there can be fraud, there has already been fraud…

Wells Fargo Closed Their Accounts, but the Fees Continued to Mount NYT. Wells Fargo is just toying with us, aren’t they?

Insurance Companies Are Paying Cops To Investigate Their Own Customers Buzzfeed (DK). “[A]n extraordinary alliance between private insurers and public law enforcement agencies — one that transforms routine claims into criminal evidence, premium-paying customers into suspects, and the justice system into a hired gun for a multibillion-dollar industry.” Lol, “justice system.”


Brexit: PM to tell EU leaders to renegotiate deal BBC. That is, the Withdrawal Agreement. Let me know how that works out….

Jeremy Corbyn will do ‘everything necessary’ to stop no-deal Brexit FT

UK government no-deal Brexit fears revealed in full Politico

Welder Shortage Threatens Boris Johnson’s U.K. Nuclear Revival Bloomberg

Germany’s Bond Market Is a Global Problem John Authers, Bloomberg

Criminal gangs stealing catalytic converters for precious metals Irish Times. Lots of metal theft stories in 2009-2011, IIRC….


Gibraltar rejects U.S. pressure to hold Iranian oil tanker Los Angeles Times


The Victoria Square protest (DK):

Hong Kong police: We don’t need Beijing’s help BBC. “When we asked if police had seen any evidence to back up the allegations that foreign governments had either funded or organised the anti-government protests, the answer was straight to the point: ‘No.'” Hardly the party line…

Beijing unveils detailed reform plan to make Shenzhen model city for China and the world South China Morning Post and HK’s future lies with China, not the West: Martin Jacques People’s Daily

‘Another Tiananmen Square’ crackdown in Hong Kong would harm trade deal, Trump warns Japan Times

If we burn, you burn with us Bloomberg (DK).

Hong Kong’s Protests Have Cemented Its Identity The Atlantic

* * *

How the West Got China’s Social Credit System Wrong WIRED (AL).

Data Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State NYRB

The Trump administration tried to bury a climate study on … rice? Grist


Schools Reopen In Kashmir But Few Children Show Up: 10 Points NDTV

At least 4,000 detained in Kashmir since region stripped of autonomy France24

India reimposes some curbs in Kashmir as stone-throwing spreads Reuters

‘News From Here Doesn’t Go Out’: Kashmir Simmers Under Lockdown The Atlantic

Retired bureaucrats, military officers move SC over abrogation of Article 370, bifurcation of Kashmir India Today

Gandhi Centre Stage, Perry Anderson, LRB (Dre42). From 2012, still germane. Grab a cup of coffee: “The British had taken over the subcontinent with such relative ease because it was politically and socially so tangled and fractured, but in imposing a common infrastructural, juridical and cultural grid on it, they unified it as an administrative and ideological reality for the first time in its history. The idea of India was theirs. But once it took hold as a bureaucratic norm, subjects could turn it against rulers, and the nimbus of empire dissolve into the charisma of nation.”


Scoop: Inside Trump’s naval blockade obsession Axios

Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures Venezuelanalysis

Media Blackout on Brazil’s Anti-Bolsonaro Protests FAIR

Race to save the rainforest: Why replacing cocaine barons with cattle ranchers is destroying the Amazon The Telegraph


Crossing the Border LRB

‘Bees, not refugees’: the environmentalist roots of anti-immigrant bigotry Guardian


The Bogus Story That Launched a ‘Collusion’ Probe Andrew McCarthy National Review

Trump Transition

U.S. President Trump does not want to do business with China’s Huawei Reuters. But you get what you need…

Trump says it would be ‘strategically nice’ to buy Greenland FTx

Navy Issues Draft Request for Proposal for Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle USNI News


Sanders unveils proposal for massive overhaul of criminal justice system Politico

Health Care

How the civilized world does health care:

Local Opinion: We’re doctors, and we’re debunking myths about Medicare for All Arizona Daily Star

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

U.S. health panel recommends doctors screen all adults for illicit drug use WaPo

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Why was Jeffrey Epstein allowed to purchase small women’s panties from the Palm Beach jail? Miami Herald (Re Silc).

The Perverted Face of Elite America The American Conservative

The Failure to See What Jeffrey Epstein Was Doing The New Yorker. Musical interlude.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The Great Land Robbery: How Federal Policies Dispossessed Black Americans of Millions of Acres The Atlantic. Land and the labor markets, from 1865 ’til today.

Class Warfare

Welcome To The Magical Mystery Plant Tour The Drive. “[D]espite the fact that [Tesla’s] industrial opera reinforces all the most fundamental lessons of automaking that have been established for decades, a surprisingly large contingent of people still seem to believe that the startup can disrupt manufacturing practices that have been honed to a sharp point by a century of competitive pressure.” Bottom line is that the robots are not taking over:

1974 Charles Koch Speech: “Anti-Capitalism and Big Business” and How the Powell Memo Did Not Go Far Enough Koch Docs. A trove.

The Population Bust: Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It Foreign Affairs. Not paywalled.

Antidote du jour (via). Upping my cat game:

Bonus antidote (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. dk

    Incredible time-lapse video of yesterday’s protest …

    At 0:33-0:35 there is a path that opens through the crowd, possibly for an ambulance although I can’t clearly discern it if it is.

    The opening appears to start to approximately the left of the most prominent red canopy, and snakes in two directions, to the far distance and down towards the near left at the same time. Then it closes back from the distance to the lower left.

    Another clip of an ambulance passing through the crowd at a different location:

    1. zagonostra

      Certainly impressive video. Yet, it sticks in my craw that hardly any coverage of the Yellow Vest Movement, protest in Guatemala, Brazil, India Labor Unrest, etc…, was/is being covered by the corporate media.

      Global coverage of social unrest and labor solidarity seems to be skewed, like all the other coverage, to tell the narrative that the ruling elite wants to project.

      And, you certainly have to dig deeper to find the ‘truth’ of what is being shown on the nightly boob tube, parsing and stacking it up against coverage such as below.

      1. Procopius

        Global coverage of social unrest and labor solidarity seems to be skewed, like all the other coverage, to tell the narrative that the ruling elite wants to project.

        Is this news to you? I was in high school during the McCarthy Years. I’m used to it. I’ve got Tass and RT and Al Jazeera bookmarked, and I still can’t keep up with it. The underreporting is the more insidious part. The obvious propaganda I can discount, but blocking information is very difficult to overcome.

  2. John Beech

    Must say I enjoyed the cat video. Think about it, absent cat-videos YouTube may never have become a behemoth.

  3. Jesper

    About the population bust. Again it appears that the pursuit of GDP is all that counts, improved quality of life is not goal it is possibly an accidental side-effect. At times it seems that improving quality of life is actively opposed.

    One of many things that politicians and our ‘elite’ appear to forget is the “accelerated urbanization”. I don’t think anyone is disputing that there is an ongoing migration from the countryside to cities? Yet I hear our ‘elite’ ‘educating’ the masses that there is plenty of open space for migrants (in the countryside). The reality is that even foreign migrants tend to move to where the jobs are – the bigger cities and thus increasing the population density there.
    Japan was discussed. Japan may or may not have a demographic crisis. What they do seem to have is a population density in their cities which is a lot higher than I’d be comfortable in enduring. Economists, in their worship of GDP, might consider dormitory living to be part of a dream future as it is likely to push up GDP. However, I am not a fan of dormitory living, I did it as part of my military service (conscripted). I’ll actively oppose ever having to do so again.

    Capitalism isn’t ending, however, what might happen is that the benefits of capitalism might need to be shared more. There is no such thing as a free lunch, our elected politicians who receive free lunches might need to consider what they are giving in return to their friends in big business. Either their friends in big business are fools or they are actually getting their moneys worth.
    In some cases the ‘free’ lunches are for actions taken, in other cases the ‘free’ lunches are for actions not taken. Examples of the latter could be the non-enforcement of white-collar crime, the non-enforcement of anti-monopoly legislation and the non-shortening of the amount of time spent at work (retirement, vacations, parental leave could all change for the better of the people but instead it is changing for the worse).

    So, would the receivers of the free lunches and campaign contributions like to publicly state that their donours from big companies are fools? Or stop taking the money? Or continue to be bewildered by why ‘populism’ is a threat to their life-style?
    Populism isn’t a threat to capitalism, populism might well be a threat to crony-capitalists and their bought politician ‘friends’.

    This bit:

    No one deploys investment capital or loans expecting less tomorrow than today. But in a world of graying and shrinking populations, that is the most likely scenario, as Japan’s aging, graying, and shrinking absolute population now demonstrates.

    In an economy where CEOs and others are rated on a short-term basis then I’d be very surprised by companies actually making investment decisions based on what may or may not happen in 15-20 years time. They might say they do, however, in practice if the payback time is 20 years time then an investment is rarely done. The one exception might be IP, pharmaceuticals but even there they appear to prefer the share buy-backs over investing in research.

    1. c_heale

      Regarding the population bust, we may see some effects of a lower number of working age people take place in a no-deal Brexit…

    2. Summer

      “Again it appears that the pursuit of GDP is all that counts, improved quality of life is not goal it is possibly an accidental side-effect. At times it seems that improving quality of life is actively opposed.”

      Whenever you hear the words “a country has to be competitive,” it’s not more competition among businesses, it’s that every country has to do whatever it can to make available the closest thing to slave labor as possible. Period. No wishy-washy jargon needed to cover the basic fact.

    3. ptb

      yes, I also get the feeling that the author of the FA article is lamenting the possible relief from resource scarcity. They should be happy, relief would be a very very good thing. (especially with present fears of mass “technological unemployment” [*] due to automation.

      The article also brings up questions of policy. Many countries in the late 20th century made a deliberate effort to reduce their fertility rate. Will they maintain discipline in this?

      * in the long run, I believe this is BS. Reduce hours per person, as has been done with success repeatedly in the past. Anyway capitalist societies auto-tune themselves to achieve 95% employment. The amount of activity is increased or reduced as necessary. Idle workforce automatically creates more activity, social grooming of some sort.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Here’s the money quote from the FA article….really telling how worried they are about ‘capitalism’….

        “So the demographic future could end up being a glass half full, by ameliorating the worst effects of climate change and resource depletion, or a glass half empty, by ending capitalism as we know it. “

        Article itself has a lot more fretting about capitalism in peril than it has about climate change related problems. Talk about demonstrating misplaced priorities!!!

    4. JCC

      One thing the article never touched on was the clear correlation between oil use and population growth. Large scale food production, pharma, urbanization and much more would not exist at today’s levels if it were not for human’s ability to get and leverage the energy that oil provides.

      If we have truly reached peak oil, there is no doubt whatsoever that seriously big changes in population are part of our future.

    5. Amfortas the hippie

      regarding “free lunch”: it has always struck me how the Bosses speak this way…bootstraps, no free lunch, personal responsibility, and on and on….while blatantly doing the opposite. what’s striking in this is how they’ve gotten away with it for so long.
      in my far place, i’ve used this a lot(for example”. it’s a small enough place that i can know just about everyone…so i can look at who gets the most handouts(for, say, not planting anything), and compare that with who is the most vocal scold of working people/poor folks.
      it’s amazing how that tracks.
      on a broader level, all the rhetoric, since at least reagan, about how we must all sing for our supper, comes primarily from those who inherited their great wealth, or who have never broke a sweat while their money has babies.
      someone pointed out yesterday that the superrich in their bunkers, come the Jackpot, would be easy pickings…and need to be taught how to do their own laundry.
      these things are related, i think.

      1. Hepativore

        I think a large part of this attitude among many managers and the elite, is that they have “earned” their positions of authority and higher-paying jobs. Of course the reality is that there is quite a bit of luck and social capital that got them there, but they will never admit it to themselves. As a sign of our times, the attitude is becoming increasingly prevalent that our “bosses” regard most of the population as lowly, lazy peasants who are poor or in dire circumstances through their own lack of effort.

        In fact, many places of the world are becoming more and more like the feudal societies of medieval Europe. However, there is no pretense of a noblesse oblige on the part of our financial lords, unlike the Middle Ages where it at least existed in theory.

        This is not that far off of a comparison…

          1. Hepativore

            I merely needed a link to the image that was the best quality. I did not look at the website itself.

      2. Procopius

        … and need to be taught how to do their own laundry.

        Excellent point. I’ve often asked, “Who shines John Galt’s shoes?” Who cooks his meals?

    6. Pat

      Just to note why should the pharmaceutical companies spend money on research when the government and charities do most of the heavy lifting for them. They do spend on new delivery systems as that can extend their exclusive rights to a drug, but would probably give that up if they could convince somebody else to do it.

      I am a long term advocate of requiring C Suite bonuses be put in an escrow account for a minimum of five years, with claw backs for the company if the company has a downturn or disaster. For the last few years I have believed that tariffs should be put on any product formerly produced in America where management closed or even partially shut down American manufacturing to move it to Mexico or India or…. And the Trump tax cut convinced me there should be a dollar for dollar corporate tax on buy backs.

    7. Katniss Everdeen

      From the article:

      A world with negative economic growth, industrial capacity in excess of what is needed, and trillions of dollars expecting returns when none is forthcoming could spell a series of financial crises. It could even spell the death of capitalism as we know it.

      As Bernie has repeatedly pointed out, “……you have 99 percent of all new income today going to the top 1 percent.”

      And, “Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.”

      Negative economic “growth” is already a reality for a vast majority of the population. If “capitalism as we know it” actually did die, would anyone who matters actually even notice?

    8. Grant

      Capitalism will end or human civilization will end. The environmental crisis is a non market affair, and there is no realistic way to monetize all the non market impacts. Even if we could, those impacts are so huge that doing so would itself call for radical changes. We have reached, or are reaching, the limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation and there is no realistic way to shrink the economy relative to the environment we draw resources from and use as a sink for wastes without far more comprehensive economic planning. So, just in response to the environmental crisis, we need an economy that uses markets far less and in radically different ways, acknowledges the limits to growth and uses far more comprehensive economic planning. That planned economy might not be socialist, not every planned economy is, but while it may have features in common with capitalism, it will not be capitalism. I hope it is a democratic form of socialism, because the alternatives are pretty ugly. Read Peter Frase’s “Four Futures”. I hope we can avoid what he calls extermimism, but it seems to be the road we are going down. Ever increasing global scarcity, along with extreme hierarchy and inequity (and widespread corruption too).

      1. Olga

        In retrospect – hope not too shocking to red-blooded amricans – the socialist economies turned out to have been far more sustainable long term. Markets and private ownership were de-emphasised. Not saying that they did not need reform – or ongoing evolution – but any home-grown reform movement was usually co-opted by the west and so became impossible. The only option for the west was to destroy them.
        The sad part is that to get humanity to the point of focusing more on the larger society, instead of just me, me, me (and which we will absolutely have to do to tackle climate change), was very difficult and hard-won. It is not a surprise that this was possible only right after a war.

        I fear that only another catastrophe could take us there again. (And for all those hoping to get “democracy” into any system – real democracy, not just slogans – please realise that that requires a fairly educated and highly engaged population – which is really hard to maintain for a long time.)

        1. juliania

          Um, I was just reading some not too ancient Chinese history at another site. The words ‘land reform’ struck a chord. I don’t think you need an educated population for that, and it seems to relate to the link above about The Great Land Robbery. You may say I’m just a dreamer…lots of little organic farms instead of megacorpagro…and prairies, can’t forget prairies. More horse drawn buggies (I know we already have some.) Less cars. New style wagon trains!

          Somebody create a Land Reform Party. I’ll join. Maybe there already is one??

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Great Land Robbery was preceded by tribes in the Americas losing even more acres.

            And that has always been the case with conquests by caesars, kaisers, czars, sultans to petty kings, dukes and princes, and will likely continue over land on the Moon, Mars, and other celestial objects.

            1. Procopius

              The story is usually distorted to pretend the tribes on the East Coast were hunter-gatherers who lost their hunting grounds because the European invaders planted crops there. In fact, the invaders first occupied vacant fields of farmers who had died in the worst epidemic known. The first conflict with the local tribes came because the surviving natives didn’t want to let the invaders occupy more of the vacant fields that had been cleared and planted by their kinfolk.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Capitalism will end or human civiliazatin will end.

        In many nations, capitalism co-exists with other systems, like, say, socialism.

        For example, Russia today.

        I think that makes capitalism to end.

    9. jrs

      Quality of life hasn’t improved in 50 years in the U.S.. GDP keeps growing. The GDP growth is only assuring our demise as a species, but not even improving our quality of life.

      Quality of life is better (if only to a degree) in continental Europe, but they are under constant pressure because the GDP is not growing as much as the U.S. – the U.S. where our streets our full of homeless people. Enough.

    10. Tomonthebeach

      Malthus has always caused me to reflect on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – an apt metaphor for how the planet asserts homeostasis. Although this article sustains a positive, we-have-everything-in-control tone, that remains to be seen. DEATH (disease), FAMINE, WAR, and CONQUEST (subjugation) are all around us today. We just cure HIV and Ebola bursts onto the scene. Is there anyplace in the Middle East or Africa that does not have civil war, interstate wars or both? We are warned that climate change is hastening the arrival of large-scale famine. Not only will crops fail, but we are killing off the fish! The USA and China are both trying to subjugate nations to their imperial rule, and we see articles daily about Orwellian social control systems sprouting up.

      A few months ago, I read an article about how past nuclear bomb detonations affected climate – hint; they cooled the planet. There used to be articles warning of nuclear winters.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think Beijing can make a good case for asking back areas in Siberia, north of Manchuia.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          There is only one imperial nation – the United States. This has been true since WWII ended. Ronald Reagan was wrong. The United States was and remains the Evil Empire.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I am not sure Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard has used that exact term, the Evil Empire to describe the US.

            You could be right with that claim, but is it shared by any of our progressive politicians?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Subjugating nations…

        Within a nation, the default goes to the people. For example, between the government and the people of a nation, say our nation, the people are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. And for the government, the powers not granted to the US, nor prohibited by the constitution to the states, are reserved for the states, or to the people. That is the implied default.

        Similarly, nations should be wary of other nations, as writers of the consitutioin were not taking for granted anything of the national government. When one nation claims she is not aiming to become the next hegemon, proof can be asked of that nation by other nations that do not assume it to be so.

        Between persons, it can be less strict. When you see another person, you don’t have to assume that person will try to rob you or something like that.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Criminal gangs stealing catalytic converters for precious metals Irish Times. Lots of metal theft stories in 2009-2011, IIRC….

    In that period a lot of quarries were left temporarily empty – most had an electricity transformer on site for the equipment. A common form of theft was to knock a hole in the base to allow the insulating oil to drain out, which would short the transformer. The copper coils could then be removed. In one case, a town of 20,000 people had a 2 hour blackout due to one of those thefts. I also heard of entire buildings being stripped of their copper wiring overnight.

      1. ambrit

        Down around the Slidell, Louisiana area, the aluminum guard rails on the roadway overpasses and bridges were slowly but steadily stripped off. Even with a fairly strict police effort to watch the local scrap yards, who have no real reason to piss off the local Powers, the thefts continued.
        Alas for the authorities, no new aluminum cast sculptures were displayed for a year after.

    1. Wukchumni

      A good many Ag wells were damaged to the tune of many thousands of Dollars in the Central Valley, due to metal thieves making off with say a hundred bucks worth of ‘precious metal’.

      This was my favorite one though, somebody tried to make off with the Gipper in the OC.

      Police and politicians were scratching their heads Monday over why someone tried to topple a Ronald Reagan memorial bronze from its spot in a Newport Beach park.

      According to authorities, someone lassoed the statue and hitched it to a pickup early Sunday. The theft was foiled when the rope or chain slipped off as the pickup pulled away. A witness alerted the police.

      1. Oh

        Too bad it wasn’t televised like the toppling of Saddam’s statue. A lot of people would have paid money to see it.

  5. DJG

    Hmmm. The American Conservative article by Purple, and the New Yorker article by Sorkin, are both trading in a weird kind of conventional wisdom.

    Sorkin insists that Epstein’s death can be explained by the negligence of some deplorables, and then she seems mystified about “influence.” As ever at the New Yorker, the capitalist system cannot be corrupt, and Epstein’s fortune, based on a crime, as Balzac pointed out long ago, is tied to other great fortunes based on crimes. Yet somehow this is all a mystery, which will never be unraveled and is something for the chattering classes to gum to death, because we wouldn’t want Conspiracy Theories when we can have Conventional Wisdom. And the conventional wisdom is that Epstein was (merely) a sex criminal, which can all be sorted out with large settlements. Ahh, yes, that explains the cement mixer, the airplane, the mysterious fortunes, the Acosta bug-out, and the shredders–maybe Whitney Webb has a point here that is larger than Sorkin’s apologia for the status quo.

    Meanwhile, Purple, at the American Conservative, is in high moral dudgeon–so high that he detours into Oscar Wilde–who, of course, has so many Obvious Parallels to Epstein that I won’t list them (although, maybe, AC is suffering from a touch of homophobia–just going out on a limb here). And, not so oddly, American Conservative is preoccupied with revolutions happening, although I’m wondering if Purple is preoccupied with the rise of the nihilistic right in the Republican Party and now on the streets across this Great Land of Ourn–see the Portland events for more high dudgeon from the American right.

    At this point, here is what we know: Oddly, Ockham’s razor indicates that Epstein was murdered. There are too many accidents, too much convenience, too much tergiversation going on. Who benefits? At the same time, after forty or fifty years of impunity for most of white-collar America, land of downsizing, looting of pensions, and raising of insurance deductibles, there is no identifiable group (that I can think of) that will put the elites on trial. Not in a country with FISA courts. Tom Cotton is no Sam Ervin.

    1. Carolinian

      Was Sam Ervin putting the “elites” on trial or the man that all the elites of the time hated? In that sense Trump could be seen as a Nixonian figure although obviously Nixon with his Quaker background and “good Republican cloth coat” guff was coming from a completely different place.

      So mostly the TAC article gets it right. We have a society where some people are weighed down and oppressed by the rules and for others the rules, the laws, are a joke. “Only the little people pay taxes.” That may be the real source of Trump’s appeal rather than speculations about white supremacy. And Epstein seems to exemplify what many have come to believe–that they are being screwed by a decadent, morally unworthy upper class.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes, but back in the day Leona went to jail after that utterance. Bush pere gave >1,000 white collar bankers orange jumpsuits the last time the bankers got caught red-handed with their hands in the till (the S&L Crisis).

        Saint Obama telling Eric “Place” Holder that bankers were a protected class and not to be touched was the pivotal moment. So when HSBC laundered *hundreds of millions* for the worst beheading global drug cartels, apparently the HSBC bank buildings committed the crime, and not any of the people in those buildings.

        Epstein is simply the extension of the exemption of the elite from the rule of law. That undeniable fact is just slowly creeping into the national consciousness. There will be *no* perp walks from the foiled soft coup attempt (FBIGate). If you don’t even jail people that attempt the overthrow of the government then all hope is lost, the rest is just Dante:

        “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”

    2. Judith

      I notice that Amy Davidson Sorkin is married to David James Sorkin, the general counsel for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a private equity firm. Some information to contemplate.

      1. ambrit

        Having worked at a medium sized retail company “influenced” by KKR, I testify that they are the essence of neoliberalism. A double whammy for Amy. Her ‘priors’ so to speak.

      2. WJ

        Judith, are you insinuating that the fact that Amy Davidson Sorkin is a member of the elite top 1% and maybe even .5% of wealth owners in the U.S. and is deeply and personally connected to the worlds of Wall Street finance and law in some way might bear upon her inability to recognize the gross oddities of the official Epstein narrative?

        It’s like you are suggesting that Amy Davidson Sorkin is not the unprejudiced, enlightened, disinterested, brilliant, all-around pursuer of truth she takes herself to be!!

        But then how do we explain her awesome position and influence and income at the New Yorker? /s

        Great comment.

        1. Carey

          The words “it’s unclear” and variants of that phrase are found constantly in our corporate media.

          I think, to the contrary, that things are becoming clearer
          all the time.

          class class class

    3. WJ

      Purple’s second paragraph begins with this sentence: “It is wrong, of course, to publicly speculate that Epstein was whacked, given that all available evidence points to gross negligence on the part of the jail.”

      A strong normative claim, followed by a very tendentious statement of empirical fact. What “evidence” have we really been presented with? It’s a joke. The “gross negligence” claim is simply unbelievable. Sorry.

      Purple’s off-hand comparison of Oscar Wilde’s interest in men to Epstein’s interest in using underage women to blackmail powerful corporate and political men is so ridiculous it’s insulting.

      The real story with Epstein is *not* his own sexual predilections but the Israeli/US? intelligence/blackmail operation linked to them and co-managed by Ghislane Maxwell.

      The “suicide” narrative is supposed to prevent the REAL STORY from coming to light.

      As for the New Yorker, I remember when that magazine was a halfway decent rag. Since the election of Trump, if not before, it’s become the privileged outlet of Manhattanite liberal pearl-clutching and enlightened xenophobia. Of course the author is mystified about “influence.” She’s paid to be mystified about it.

      1. Carolinian

        The real story with Epstein is *not* his own sexual predilections but the Israeli/US? intelligence/blackmail operation linked to them and co-managed by Ghislane Maxwell.

        Presumably you are going to offer up some proof or we may have to take this as a

        tendentious statement of empirical fact

        As for Wilde the author may be referring to his underage partners rather than his homosexuality.

        Today, men who have sexual relations with boys under sixteen can be sentenced to up to fourteen years in prison, and paying for sex with a boy of sixteen or seventeen carries a sentence of up to seven years. Wilde probably committed the first of these offences, and he was certainly guilty of the second.”

        However at the time Wilde was condemned for homosexual activities only rather than the age of his partners so it was the height of hypocrisy in that society.

        It is the American Conservative. We don’t have to agree with all of the article to find merit in other parts.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, I’ve found the blackmail assertions to be way way out over their skis. I haven’t had time to take issue with them so thanks for doing so.

          1. Fíréan

            “In her declaration filed January 21, 2015 in U.S. District Court, the Southern District of Florida, Virginia Giuffre claims that she met Ghislaine Maxwell in 1998 when she was 15 years old, working as a changing room assistant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club and residence. Giuffre claimed Maxwell recruited her by saying she could teach her to give Epstein professional massages.
            When Giuffre got to Epstein’s mansion, her father wasn’t allowed in. Epstein was naked upstairs and both Epstein & Maxwell forced her into sexual activity with Epstein. She was paid $200.

            Giuffre claimed that Epstein and Maxwell trained her over the course of a few weeks both in New York and in Palm Beach to be in their words “everything a man wanted me to be.” She was trained not just to meet a man’s sexual needs, but to be compliant and keep her mouth shut. They asked her to pay special attention to details she learned from the men and to report back to them. Giuffre was afraid of Epstein and what he could do to her because she had witnessed a lot of activity that was illegal. She was to look out for details so that he would “have something” on his “friends” and they would owe him favors—in other words, blackmail.

            Giuffre contends that Epstein “made” her have sex with Prince Andrew three times, including one orgy. One day when she was 17 years old, she was at Maxwell’s townhouse in London and Epstein told her she was going to meet a “major prince.” After a night on the town, she was told the Prince wanted to see “more of” her. Epstein took a picture with Maxwell lurking in the background.

            Giuffre also confirms in her declaration that Jean-Luc Brunel, the co-founder of MC2 Modeling Management, procured many foreign girls for Epstein, many from Eastern Europe. Giuffre claims that Brunel “appeared to have an arrangement with the U.S. Government where he could get passports or other travel documents for young girls.”
            . .

            Also, recall that there were secret cameras set up in the Palm Beach house and the computer that recorded the video was missing from Epstein’s house when the police executed their search warrant.

            /end quote

            My bold emphasis.


            There is a photograph of the young lady with Prince Andrew and Maxwell in the background within the article. part 3 of a very comprehensive study ( to be completed)


            1. skippy

              Some guy did a doco on the big international modeling agencies around 15 years ago, aired on BBC, linked it to NC back in the day.

              Suffice to say the shear volume of young girls, including legal age dramas for sex, dwarfs Epstein’s. Entire clubs set up, in say Milan, just to operate a private level [elite men only allowed] above the public area down stairs, completely staffed by modeling agency girls from out of country. Coke being purchased from modeling agency office, 30-ish year old local men running houses with 7 to 10 girls introducing them to drugs like coke [keeps them thin too] and grooming them for the clubs they were forced to attend – part of their [undisclosed] deal with the modeling agencies or be sent home.

              The entire doco was filmed undercover with big names in frame, coincided with a big international competition for 15-16 year old girls, top finalists getting the treat of a big party on a super yacht parked off the sea side location for the finals awards. Top executive promoters were crystal clear about how that event pans out for them – “the girls know what they have to do for their careers” ….

              This is what I find curious about the whole Epstein thingy considering the known knowns … did he go a bridge too far … and got turfed out after his use by date expired, ego exceeded mandate, could not manage his psychological disorder – making him a loose cannon [mock decorum is a hallmark of elites in many cases] , et al … its not like there are quite a few classic examples in recent history.

              Anywho the wife is done with the Rallye de Midi and now in the South of France, Cannes, and more than a few English speaking natives [Bostonite, Australian, too name a couple] have asked her for directions, thinking shes French …. reality really is a curious state of affairs ….

              1. Fíréan

                And Kathryn Bolkovac revealed to us how UN peace force workers, employed by Dyncorp, abused, prostituted and trafficked women and children in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, after the US president of the day, Bill Clinton, had bombed parts of the place and started an internal war.

                Bolkovac lost her job and an investigation was covered up by the UN.


                1. skippy

                  I remember the Bosnian R&R episode, well with eyewitness accounts, something about stress relief not being directed at local civilians with a side of going along to get back home in one piece thingy …

                  Its not always the horrors of war that afflict service members returning home …

              2. tegnost

                curious about the whole Epstein thingy considering the known knowns … did he go a bridge too far … and got turfed out after his use by date expired, ego exceeded mandate, could not manage his psychological disorder

                Useful idiot. I appreciate yves circumspection, there may be more than meets the eye, but there also may be less and it’s fun but unreasonable to speculate unless one emphasizes that they are speculating. Innocent til proven guilty always leaves some doors open…

                1. skippy

                  The trust is this is not some unique episode or a singular case without resorting to deep state framing.

                  This is not even in the league of useful tin pot dictators, circumstances say around Castro’s post victory visit to D.C., circumstances around Miami during Rayguns tenure, or the Bush – Clinton kumbaya in Haiti to get the pro sports garment industry rolling again, I regress ….

                  Just pointing out how oligarchical capital rolls as supported by key authors attributed on NC, where the only major disruption is ethnic back drop and how that plays out geopolitically.

                  1. tegnost

                    I think I agree with you. To me epstein seems like a low level criminal comparatively speaking, his goose was cooked and he knew it, he was going to be a convicted pedophiliac and that realization could be the whole reason for his demise. It could also have been more complex than that, I don’t think we’ll ever know. Maybe RRR has made me unusually suspicious of explosive storylines…

            2. skippy

              Per your bold that sounds a bit like pillow talk information intel gathering for profit and not necessary blackmail in all cases, heaps of information on business – political deals which could be front run and managed for personal gain or even sold.

              I mean contra to popular perceptions about business investment being all about numerology, there is a massive biopolitical aspect.

                1. skippy

                  Only saying that might be susceptible to individual factors and not represent the full potential spectrum of possibilities. Its a common issue with the observer problem aka 10 view same event and have various individual takes on a specific event, not that larger dynamics are always in play and not privy to all E.g. hearing a word used does not vindicate its application in toto, not that the veracity of all involved is beyond circumspect.

        2. WJ

          My claims about the Epstein case involving a state intelligence honeypot blackmail operation are speculative, but so are most others surrounding his case. The grounds for my claims include the following points, none of which are, to the best of my knowledge, false. (I am happy to be corrected.)

          1. Vicky Ward has stated that in a conversation with a Trump administration source she was told this about Acosta and Epstein’s 2007 deal.

          “Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)

          To the best of my knowledge, Ward’s account of this conversation has never been denied. It also makes the most sense of all the explanations for the 2007 deal subsequently offered. We *know* that this sort of thing has happened in the past when intelligence assets are involved in criminal law proceedings.

          2. There is still no agreed-upon explanation of the source of Epstein’s wealth. Or even, if I am not mistaken, of his actual business. Those who have dug somewhat into Epstein’s finances have discovered oddity after oddity:

          3. The specific accusations made by Virginia Giuffre include several names also found in Epstein’s “black book” AND specifies that the trafficking operation involved not Epstein working solo, but Epstein and Maxwell working together, AND involved hidden video recordings of the “massages” etc.

          4. Epstein’s former bodyguard suggests that Epstein received advance notice of police searches/warrants, something also suspected by 2007 prosecutorial team; seems very wary of saying too much of what he knows/suspects about Epstein’s work:

          So: Epstein “belongs to intelligence,” is a fabulously wealthy (or functionally fabulously wealthy) money manager who doesn’t seem to have many clients or manage much money, trafficks attractive but underage young women to powerful men, records their sexual liaisons, and has the personal and work phone numbers of large numbers of these men readily on hand; and seems to have been protected against criminal prosecution and forewarned about police warrants until the very recent past.

          Given all of the above, I do not find the notion that Epstein and Maxwell were involved in a sophisticated intelligence honeypot operation wildly conspiratorial or groundless. We know that these things go on. The available facts that we do have about the Epstein case fit this pattern as well as they do any other, it seems to me.

          What am I mistaken about?

          1. Carolinian

            Your links are all familiar stuff but they don’t prove anything. Therefore a bald statement that the “real story” is “Israeli/US? intelligence/blackmail operation” is inappropriate.

            It’s still possible that the official story is correct and that Epstein defied his accusers by committing suicide. Personally I prefer to think that he was dragged off to Hell unwillingly rather than having the last say, however speculation should be labelled as such.

            1. pjay

              Ah yes. Definitive “proof.”

              Here is my prediction. We will *never* have definitive “proof” of the “real story.” If the past is any guide, we *may* have some evidence about elements of this case trickle out over the next few decades, if there are enough “conspiracy theorists” who care to keep investigating. But for now we will be deluged by various stories about panties, screams, broken bones (or maybe just one bone), bed sheets, sleeping guards, etc. Indeed, the best indicators about Epstein’s very unusual “career” will be effectively overwhelmed if there is enough speculation about how he died. The crazier the better.

              Existing evidence at least suggests very strongly that Epstein was working for/with someone; and certainly he did not set up this operation on his own. My *opinion*, based on this evidence, and a number of related facts (some of which were nicely summarized above by WJ), is that this was a blackmail operation and linked to intelligence (not sure whose). For reasons that have been discussed well at NC over the last few weeks, I also doubt that he killed himself. But alas, I have no “proof,” and I know I probably never will. That, in fact, is another pretty good indicator for me that I am right. If he was really a simple sex predator/provider who killed himself in prison, the proof would be available.

        3. Craig H.

          > Presumably you are going to offer up some proof

          Here is the thing about government secrecy–those of us without the need-to-know credentials are left with anything but reasoned speculation. It is like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson repartee 24/7.

          All of the evidence for proof is classified.

          Read some retirement memoirs from spooks sometime if you want to get bored out of your skull. None of them are ever in possession of enough of the puzzle to assemble a coherent picture.

    4. skk

      While the two articles go further than making it just a murder or suicide with the usual attacks on “conspiracy” ideas as deluded by referring to specific rich individuals and even the entire elite as significant actors in this case, neither of them bring up a even more central issue : the sexual blackmailing angle, using criminal activities like attacks on young girls, on behalf of intelligence agencies – the CIA and Mossad – all organized by people who consort with each other and act in concert using pro-Israeli philanthropy outfits – outfits like the Mega Group and B’nai B’rith.
      And that this goes back decades and decades, before Epstein even – as outlined by Whitney Webb in her 3 part series on these angles. I say angles but really it is a central issue.

      1. WJ

        Yes. If the gatekeepers admitted that Epstein’s “suicide” is unconvincing, they would be forced to talk about the motive behind his murder. And this would lead to their discussion of the larger blackmail honeypot operation run by Epstein and Maxwell and its likely Mossad [in my view] sponsorship, and this would lead to a larger discussion of the history of Zionism and Western elite politics in the 20th century, and there’s NO WAY we are going to be allowed to talk about this.

    5. Chris Cosmos

      Frankly, anyone who believes the official stories of “my dog ate my homework” is a chump or a tool of the authorities. Of course, you can’t openly admit the truth in the US media or you no longer have a “place” in it and have to skulk off to the “conspiracy theorists” ghetto on the internet. And so it goes. Everything points to murder here and while suicide is not an impossibility it is an unlikely one mainly because of the confusion and contradictory signals coming out of the authorities as they spent days deciding on their usual “mistakes were made” sort of nonsense–it’s always “incompetence” that is blamed because in the USA conspiracies are impossible because our national myth is American Exceptionalism and if you don’t “believe” in that then you are guilty of reading the classical historians who, unlike most US historians, generally attempted to write the truth about the world they observed because hypocrisy was an not considered the virtue that we are now conditioned to believe.

      I’ve never been in power but I’ve observed power from the periphery from the criminal street to the streets of Washington and New York. Here’s a bulletin–people get whacked when they f*ck with the wrong people or are about to reveal something the powerful don’t like. People cheat, lie, steal, kill, and even perform acts of genocide to get a leg up–that’s the reality. Everyone who seeks and gains power does it through the ways Machiavelli and other classical writers laid out long ago. Why we can’t face up to that, why we feel we have to somehow imagine a society that never was and never will be to feel good about ourselves points to our malaise. All we have to do is accept the reality around us that politics goes deep, that motivations are what motivations have always been.

      When we decide to see things as they are rather than we hope them to be we’ll be more than halfway to solving our collective problems. As long as we allow ourselves to be bamboozled by the media Narrative of the NYTimes, WaPo, CNN, MSDNC, NPR and so on we are going to be nowhere near achieving our potential.

      1. a different chris

        >t’s always “incompetence” that is blamed

        Incompetence is pretty rampant nowadays. It’s not easily dismissed.

        1. Carey

          Oddly, though, “incompetence” almost always tilts to the
          Few’s benefit; as in this case.


    6. Yves Smith

      While we are on this topic….the opening portion of the otherwise useful Miami Herald piece was completely off base. Size 5 in women’s underwear is a medium size for adults. It is not a child’s size as the article implies.

      And why might he buy it? Hasn’t it occurred to them that he might have used undies to masturbate? The bizarre insinuation that he was buying medium size women’s underwear….prison grade….for some sort of use with underaged women is just bizarre. As the article says, he was out every day. Epstein had employees, or did they forget that? If he actually was procuring underwear (as gifts? Because he’d often rip underwear in his sex play?), his staff could buy much nicer underwear that actually fit….and an adult female model would typically wear smaller than size 5.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Yves, size 5 is indeed a “small” in most women’s panties. I buy all of my lingerie online from Macy’s and just checked their size chart to confirm. An exception is Jockey, which has a size 4 small, corresponding to dress size 2-4. Depending on the style, a size 5 really can look like it would fit an adolescent, especially if, like me, the last time you fit into size 5 underwear was as a teenager. Of course, women’s prison issue underwear isn’t a slinky string bikini, but the old-fashioned white cotton briefs. Out of curiosity, I did a search and found a supplier of women’s prison undies (also confirming size 5 as small):

        Since men have a smaller waist-to-hip ratio, and Epstein was ordering medium men’s briefs, it’s possible that the small women’s briefs actually did fit him, and maybe they even were more comfortable. I read recently that he had a stack of white polo shirts at his island estate, wore them once, and threw them away. It’s not hard to imagine reasons for a guy like him needing a quick change of clean underwear during his overnight visits to the county jail.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Its also possible that he didnt wear them. Maybe Dude was so horny that looking at them did the trick.

          Furthermore isnt this proof that Epstein wasnt wasnt suicidal?
          Do suicidal people masturbate?

    7. John k

      Interesting that the single word, intelligence, stopped all questions of Acosta when he was vetted… apparently not even ‘who said that?’ And nobody since deems it useful to ask, either.
      Seems the vetting boys found it quite believable that deep would be involved in such an op.
      Beyond that, who can reach into that prison not once but twice? Remember Jeffrey said somebody had tried to kill him earlier. If at first you don’t succeed…

      1. Kurt Sperry

        “Remember Jeffrey said somebody had tried to kill him earlier”

        We really need a source on an assertion like that.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Navy Issues Draft Request for Proposal for Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle”

    Hmm. The question arises then that if one of these ships are disabled in combat or even if that ship’s computer crashes hard – do the laws of maritime salvage then apply? No crew remember. Oh well, at least we know that the computer systems on these ship are absolutely secure and totally impervious to hacker attacks. I think maybe that the people who did the software for the F-35 might get the contract for these ship’s software packages.

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      When they come up with ideas like this do we have a public interest in wondering if any sentient beings inhabit the navy? Many of the regular ships don’t work with human monitors now. They purposefully build them dysfunctional to get more money for maintenance, which they don’t spend on the ship. Some are never completed and non functional in the operations they were allegedly designed for, but continue to have a budget to repair. Should we call it what it is? The word used to be ‘crapification’ But that isn’t honest. When you build something to suck appropriations dishonestly and ignore the non function, what is that called in the new vernacular? An example would be the Gerald Ford, a big pile of steel that many say will never sail and whose functions were ignored as they built it.
      When will this be common knowledge?

      1. a different chris

        Oh my thanks – I guess, must be in a good mood – for calling my attention to that. This is, again given my current mood, hilarious:

        The ship was originally scheduled for launch in July 2013 and delivery in 2015.[32] Production delays meant that the launch had to be delayed until 11 October 2013 and the naming ceremony until 9 November 2013,[42] with delivery in February 2016.[43]

        But yeah not even close:

        Gerald R. Ford was delivered to the Navy on 31 May 2017[6] and formally commissioned by President Donald Trump on 22 July 2017.[7][17][18] She is expected to leave on her first deployment around 2022.[19]

        So as you say, a big hunk of metal. And claimed to be now “delivered”, even though she can’t get out of sight of land. More to the point, even if she works perfectly in 2022 aircraft carriers are pretty much obsolete today for anything beyond threatening some 3rd world country. Iran would wish for that big a target. I give her maybe 10 years of service life… maybe they can then sell her to Bezos so he can sail around in real style and still be able to fly off somewhere at a moment’s notice.

    2. Leftcoastindie

      Maybe they could hire some of those $9.00/hr Indian programmers Boeing used for the 737 Max8. That worked so well for Boeing what could go wrong?.

  7. Jesper

    About: Wells Fargo Closed Their Accounts, but the Fees Continued to Mount

    I’ve worked a lot in too big to fail, I’ve not yet worked for Wells Fargo so my guess might be very wrong but anyway: My guess is that once the problem was discovered then someone said that a business case needs to be written before any fixes/changes to the code could even be considered. The first time that I got such a reply then I was perplexed.
    The logic, such as it is, might be that if a fix is needed then someone high up might be seen to have made a mistake. The higher-ups do not make mistakes. Ever. So therefore a fix is out of the question.
    Which then might mean that the work needed is work on an upgrade. Any and all upgrades needs to have a business case written and also approved before work can start.

    Best time to get a fix done might be to wait until whoever the higher-up who messed up left the company. The replacement might consider blaming the pre-decessor and then the fix can be done. But even if the higher-up left then the office-politics can be complicated as often there were more than one higher up involved and maybe some not so high up but still high up are still within the organisation.
    Some might resolve the situation by fixing it without telling anyone, however, then a question from a higher up might be: What did you spend your paid time on? Not having a good answer to such question might be damaging to ones career……

    1. a different chris

      >What did you spend your paid time on?

      “Tweaking the code” is a time-honored get-out-of-jail-free card for programmers…

  8. Wukchumni

    Obama could’ve vetoed a bill to allow people to bring guns into the National Parks, but being a lackey’s lackey he of course did nothing of the sort. The silver bullet lining being that yes, you can possess them, but if you discharge one, you’ll be arrested if a ranger hears your gat going off.

    Earlier in the week I was getting a wilderness permit, and the clown in front of me felt he needed to tell the ranger that, yes indeed, he was packing heat, and and thought he’d better show her his 4 to 5 pounds of uselessness in the guise of gun, holster & ammo that would be accompanying him on his walk into the wilderness.

    1. Carolinian

      But, but….they be bears there. Scary. Never know when you might need to shoot one.

      Teddy Roosevelt did great things for our park system but had to be restrained from blasting away when visiting them

      1. Oh

        He went on wild life safaris and hunted innocent animals. Maybe he wanted the opportunity for other to do the same thing closer to home?

        1. Carolinian

          If you’ve ever been to Sagamore Hill on Long Island the place is overflowing with taxidermy.

    2. inode_buddha

      The guy in front of you was following proper and safe protocol when carrying legally and dealing with the authorities. Preventing misunderstandings, etc. demonstrating responsible gun ownership.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Population Bust: Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It Foreign Affairs. Not paywalled.

    Well worth reading – I’ve read several reports on this line recently from demographers – its not certain yet, but it seems very likely that population growth has peaked and may well go into a much sharper decline than most people expect. One of the problems of this is that it can create unexpected population ‘bulges’ that run through the system, straining resources.

    Of course, its only a plus for the environment if the reduced number of people also reduce their consumption. China managed to hugely increase its pollution rate while having a one-child policy.

  10. a different chris

    Here’s another part, not relevant (or maybe it is?) of the massive hit an American medical emergency will take on your supposed retirement, but interesting:

    >The bill came out to be less than $1,000.

    Everybody focuses, as they should, on the thousand bucks. But the other thing that stands out in that sentence is… the word “The”. Not the American way of 4, 5 or six bills of all sorts of basically random amounts dribbling in every time you think you’ve put the costs behind you.

    The ambulance service. The hospital bill, which oddly enough doesn’t include a doctor’s bill. The doctor’s bill. Some supporting physician or physicians, at a minimum being an anesthesiologist. If you get an X-ray, maybe it’s on the hospital bill, maybe not but you will almost certainly get another bill for reading it.

    Just one bill. What a mess we have.

    1. notabanker

      I’ve posted this here before, but I’ve received far superior care in Hanoi Vietnam than in the US. And was billed $300 USD I paid on a credit card. And was fully reimbursed by overseas travel insurance, not in any way affiliated with the US system.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Covering Americans’ eyes to health care provision that obviously and abundantly works quite well and has for decades in other countries…is part of the program. The Pay More to Die Sooner program.

        Oh well, America couldn’t possibly do that. I mean it’s not like we’re the richest country on Earth or anything.

    2. Some Guy in Beijing

      Lived in Korea for nearly a decade. Their public option is great and brings costs down even for the uninsured. As radically as I support M4A, I’d be willing to compromise if it meant we got something similar to Korea’s system. I actually suspect that it’s the most workable solution in the short term. Unfortunately, Obama tossed out that bargaining chip immediately ( but not before I supported him him based on that policy proposal.)

  11. Jim A.

    Re: Tesla.
    It certainly seems obvious that it is easier for current auto manufacturers to change the powertrains that they put into cars than for Tesla to ramp up to efficient manufacture at large scale.

    1. John k

      tesla went public in 2010, built coast to coast charging stations. Popular cars outperformed ic.
      For years now lux mfrs have been talking about their Tesla beaters will be ready any day now. But not yet…
      So maybe not so easy to change from a century of doing something one way to doing something a new way, even if the new way is inherently far simpler. And they have the big advantage of a working example, so it’s just copy and paste. And they’ve had it for over ten years, so plenty of time.
      Musk has made huge mistakes, might go under. But he moved the needle, others playing catch-up in super slow motion.

      1. fajensen

        It’s often *technically* easy, but, *politically* impossible to do something new – one of the iron laws of business / office politics is that one does absolutely not “disrupt” ones existing product lines and management fiefdoms!

        Every new development *has to be loyal* to the existing products and services – as in increasing their value, lowering their costs, making their leaders appear on glossy magazines and doing key-note talks at important conferences. If the “new thing” doesn’t do any of that, it is seen as “destroying value” and it will never get any traction (unless the business is really desperate).

        Right now, they are hoping Tesla will go bust while keeping a few token electrical products in their catalogues.

        For example:

        Firstly, a serious move to electrical cars by, say Mercedes, will leave billions in stranded investments in state of the art engine- and drive-train- factories as well as logistics systems around them. There will be long-term borrowings with those facilities as collateral.

        Secondly, “going electrical” will mean the rise of New & Different People into the organisation at the board level and *that* has to be prevented by all means necessary because it dilutes the (looting) power of the incumbents.

        I believe that if one of the incumbent or luxury car manufactures succeeds in upstaging Tesla, it will be via a “skunk works” operation where someone at the CEO/Board- level manages to keep the “electrical car project” secret until it is too late to stop it.

  12. Wukchumni

    Orwells Fargo is 2X+ good @ this…

    Wells Fargo Closed Their Accounts, but the Fees Continued to Mount NYT. Wells Fargo is just toying with us, aren’t they?

  13. Working Families < Money

    Why oh why do I read the comments on politico.. Especially on Sanders mass-incarceration..

    1. Oh

      I refuse to read any article on Politico, let alone comments by its readers. We need to boycott Politico en masse.

  14. William Hunter Duncan

    Is Wells Fargo toying with us? My taxes and insurance went up $270 but Wells says my escrow needs to go up $952, because, you know, we are Wells Fargo.

    As for the Guardian, they seem to be taking a lead on this eternal-growth neoliberal trend of connecting all things environmental and caring for the earth with eco-fascism. All the better to continue the eternal progress of capital generation/ecocide apparently. See, population growth hasn’t lead to famine, or any other problem really (except Climate Change! (Inc)) so anyone who connects big ag with pollinator collapse = future famine, or consumerism with ecocide is, well, a fascist.

    1. notabanker

      Um, I thought it was socialist. Or was it conspiracy theorist? Or maybe just plain ole Russian. I’m so confused.

    2. Adrienne

      The Guardian article is chilling, to say the least. Drawing a direct line from John Muir and the Sierra Club to mass shootings and white nationalism… from here, it’s a small step to brand any and all environmental protest (anti-fracking, anti-pipeline, forest defenders, etc.) as domestic terrorism.

      In any protest movement, watch out for agents provocateurs, the ones advocating violence. Property destruction is a sure path to a long stay in federal facility. Same with blockades, masked protesting… (BTW, antifa activities look like huuuge federale honeypots to me). This is old news, a legacy from the radical enviro actions of the 80’s and 90s, but now this… media muddying the waters with propaganda, putting the environmental movement firmly in the cross-hairs.

      What’s next: felony convictions for ripping out your lawn & planting vegetables?

      1. Carolinian

        step to brand any and all environmental protest (anti-fracking, anti-pipeline, forest defenders, etc.) as domestic terrorism.

        That happened some time ago. Spike a tree now and you are in big trouble. There have been some environmental groups that were bomb throwers and that has been used to suppress all attacks on property as terrorism.

        The exception of course would be what happened a Malheur–a kind of anti-environmental property destruction. They got off.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        gardening is a revolutionary act.
        especially if you give the bulk of the produce away.
        when i had my cafe, i bought tomatoes from a grandmother down the street. Health inspector docked me for it…”not an approved source”.
        wholesomeness of said produce doesn’t enter into the equation.
        and whatever you do, don’t feed the homeless.
        and everything i just pointed at has been extant for at least 10 years.
        grandma’s illegal toms, for 20.
        we must sing for our supper, but they forbid us a song.

      3. jrs

        nah the lawn won’t be threatened, it is sacred private property afterall, that most holy of all sacred things, and that’s an ideology they want to maintain.

        activism is always considered suspect though.

        1. JBird4049

          Bomb entire countries into the 13th century, overthrow countless, often democratically elected governments, pollute the whole Earth because Terrorism. Or something.

          Big Ag and Big Chemical chemo’d the environment. The government helps corporations destroy the labor movement. H-1B visas are routinely used to illegally to fire whole departments. Democrats decry the Deplorables and the Republicans feed racism while both send jobs overseas and pocket the endless rivers of legal bribes.

          Federal, State, and municipal governments work with businesses to destroy the economy, the environment, and society while punishing the weakest Americans and the refugees fleeing from the living Hell that the United States has created out of their countries. Not to mention the de facto legal (semi)slavery of those undocumented people both by ICE and by businesses and the de jure semi-slavery of Americans in prisons all used to undercut and replace American workers.

          So, yes it must be the racist environmentalists who are the problem!

          1. jrs

            I suspect how this propaganda campaign works: the propaganda campaign underway to portray those who care about the environment as: 1) eco-f-ist or 2) to portray possible voluntary population and GDP decline as a bad thing when on a finite planet there are limits. It works because TABOO.

            It’s very easy to convince people they are crazy if a topic becomes taboo. And well everybody knows about climate change (maybe even the deniers) and yet it’s not a topic most people talk about in person, other environmental issues even less. And if we can’t talk about it openly, it’s very easy to convince people they are crazy for their level of concern. It might as well be the Victorians and sex. Not saying there is no activism, as there is, but in most of society it’s not something you talk about.

            So that’s how the gaslighting works, it feeds on taboo, on the conversations we don’t really have with those around us. And yes the elite have held most power and been horrible, the political system is driving everyone to more and more extremes (and mostly not even good ones) etc..

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              I disagree. “Progressivism” in the early 20th century had a ghastly connection to eugenics; Wilson resegregated the Federal Government. It does no good to flinch at history.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Trump says it would be ‘strategically nice’ to buy Greenland”

    I saw a quote that said: “Greenland is a strategic place up there, and they’ve got a lot of valuable minerals” and I thought typical Trump hyperbole but I was wrong. It wasn’t Trump but actually Larry Kudlow that said that. In other words, his advisors are telling him that it is a totally doable idea. Greenland is supposedly rich in natural resources, including iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare-earth elements, uranium and oil. If Trump got his hands on Greenland, can you imagine what the place would be like after a decade or so? It would be a toxic wasteland with open mining and deadly pollutants poisoning the inhabitants and no longer the pristine landscape that it is now. I am sure that the Greenlanders remember the US military bases that were built and then abandoned in the past. Some of them have leftover toxic nuclear waste and other pollutants being exposed as the ice melts so the US has a pretty bad reputation regarding pollution in this corner of the world-

      1. The Rev Kev

        You are not too far from the truth with your comment. When the US tried to acquire Greenland back in the 1860s, one of the main reasons was to hem Canada in – along with Alaska – so that it would give Canada a push to go into the Union eventually.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Could be a Trojan Horse, or just a distraction from whatever Trump has in mind.

      Possibly, just speculating (because he said he wanted to be unpredictable) while we obsess over Greenland, he and Putin could be working on a deal.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Just as a weird and wonderful fact, the size of Greenland is 836,330 sq miles (2,166,086 km2) while the total size of the Louisiana Purchase was 828,000 sq miles (2,140,000 km2) so near identical in size.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. health panel recommends doctors screen all adults for illicit drug use”

    So what sign does a doctor that does this screening automatically on their patients without their consent put up in his surgery? “The Narc Is In” maybe?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      this is one of the stupidest ideas i’ve heard all week.
      lumping pot use in with “drug abuse” is already why i begged my regular doctor to not send me to “pain management”(it’s Texas, and the law says that PM must test for weed, and then deny treatment if i test positive)
      my doc only wanted to send me in the first place because of the hysterical fear regime in place around prescribing pain meds.
      it’s even sillier when you consider that none of these periodic proposals(like making me drive 60 miles round trip once a month to pick up a paper prescription) will do anything at all to fix the problem they say they want to fix(deaths of despair)
      a New New Deal, on the other hand, would likely see rather quick results.
      happy, contented people with a feeling of purpose and usefulness don’t generally off themselves, go on killing sprees or so readily fall into toxic escapism that they become addicted to these substances(just about all the clinical data i’ve ever seen indicates that folks like me taking it for pain are unlikely to become addicted…which is certainly born out by my experience. I’ve been taking vicodin for more than ten years now…with regular “holidays” to “reset the receptors” in order to prolong the effectiveness. i’ve never caught a buzz, or had a single symptom of withdrawal)
      this proposal looks like a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment(what’s left of it) and cash in on pot prohibition before it goes away. Doctor Patient Privilege should not be tossed out so easily because some people want to get one last harvest, or can’t bring themselves to look at the obvious staring them in the face(“america is already great”)

      1. Oh

        Thank Obama for not de-listing pot /s. He smoked a lot of it and did cocaine but oh no! we can’t have people doing that!

  17. WJ

    *The Bogus Story That Launched a ‘Collusion’ Probe Andrew McCarthy National Review*

    In general, the National Review Right has argued that Trump did not collude with Boris and Natasha but was set up by the Obama administration and esp. John Brennan. What the National Review Right has *not* argued is that the assumed premise that Russian did engage in election hacking was itself an invention from the beginning. Why they have *not* been willing to argue thus is pretty obvious. The McCarthy piece is an outlier because here McCarthy comes *very* close to calling bullsh*t on the hallowed prior assumption of Russian interference. It does so by pointing out in a very dry paragraph Joseph Mifsud’s many documented ties to NATO-aligned intelligence services–MI6 in particular. And yet McCarthy does not draw out the implications of these connections; he just points them out, and moves on. It is a fascinating rhetorical anticlimax.

    It is as though McCarthy wants his readers to escape the fly bottle but is not quite willing or able to lead them out himself. An interesting conundrum for the National Review Right.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Beijing unveils detailed reform plan to make Shenzhen model city for China and the world”

    That was a great video on that page. The one called “From Backwater to Big City”. I suppose that you could say that that couple were a pioneer generation who were there from the beginning. Now that would be a challenge worth doing.

  19. Olga

    Since we are now trying to get more balance on HK, this is also informative: Op-Ed: Hong Kong is not and shall not be the frontline of US and China
    My sense is that the official China may be just waiting for the start of the school year for protests to abate.
    HK is not going anywhere – either its citizens take advantage of the opportunities presented or HK will be marginalised as MJ writes. It’s not like there aren’t other large and innovative cities in China. The other thing that may happen is changes to the educational system (subtle) to reverse western brainwashing (as one resident wrote about at MoA).

    1. Plenue

      “The other thing that may happen is changes to the educational system (subtle) to reverse western brainwashing (as one resident wrote about at MoA).”

      Ah yes, when I think of subtlety, I think of the Chinese Communist Party. I also like how brainwashing is now ‘reverse brainwashing’.

    1. ewmayer

      The magazine display racks next to the check-outs at my local Whole Foods regularly feature hagiophotographic covers of one or both smiling Obamas. Just the thing to slip into your NPR tote bag along with your Organic Sustainable FairTrade EcoFriendly produce on your way out, along with your copy of the latest issue of Fast Company. (I live in the SF Bay area, so such entreprenuerial-disruptor-worship rags are de riguer).

  20. Dan

    ‘Bees, not refugees’

    The pro-growth, build at all costs, cheap labor, lend more money, harvest more exponentially growing interest, oil burners are in a panic. Luxury markets are saturated, the poor can’t buy any more of their debt or Chinese made crap, their only hope to continue their giant ponzi scheme here is to continue the importation of millions more high fertility ‘migrants’, at all costs, to be externalized to the general population of tax donkeys and the environment.

    Love how the Guardian, a British web presence that beats their breasts for more Grenfel Tower style mass housing for immigrants,lectures us with no solutions to fix their own knife crime riddled mess.

    They actually quote the Southern Poverty Law Center scam as an authority?

    “”They”, those evil white conservationists, ultimately lost the Sierra Club in the mid-2000s…”
    A several hundred million dollar bribe from David Gelbaum, an Epstein-like elite bought control of the Sierra Club:

    “recent studies show no correlation between US immigrant communities and pollution.” They cite some obscure and lame air pollution ‘study’.
    Here’s a different real world take on that:
    “The city issued building permits for 4,300 homes near freeways in 2015.”

    If the world is a “closed system” and borders are irrelevant, then what harm is there in populations remaining where they are to fix their own societies?
    Per the separate Population Bust article, “fertility in Central America should decline in a couple of generations”, i.e. approximately 25 to 30 years, taking into account the age when girls get pregnant there.

    According to the Guardian, if Americans are for a sustainable environment and against population growth, then they are in favor of mass shootings? What’s next?
    Build more nuclear reactors for social equity?

    1. Monty

      This reads like the ‘crypto-winger’ talking point vending machine malfunctioned and just started spilling out its contents into a pile on the floor.

      BTW You forgot to add in some ‘facts’ about IQ differences and Antarctic ice!

  21. Daryl

    > Give Your Yard Back to Nature

    I’ve been looking for a place in east Texas and I’m all for this. Putting lawns in a forest is the height of idiocy and causes harm in multiple ways, not just ecological but the constant barrage of noise pollution from lawn care.

    There needs to be a concerted movement to deal with HOAs and other people who think that emulating Renaissance-era nobility should be mandatory for all of us.

    1. fajensen

      Well, in the forest there will be loads and loads of ticks. If one leaves the grass uncut for a while one can go and see the little buggers eagerly sitting on top of the straws and waiting to grab their victims to shoot them up with natures own arsenal of bio-weaponry. Cutting the grass gets rid of them for a while.

      Maybe planting something “lawn like” like crawling thyme or … will also keep the ticks away.

      In any case, keeping a clear area around the house also keeps mold, moss and algae somewhat away form the house. One also want to keep the deer away, they will eat the vegetables and they will pee vCJD prions onto whatever they don’t eat!

  22. Alex

    To me the situation in Kashmir resembles Chechnya before the first war: a semi-autonomous province with an uneasy history of being part of a huge country, Muslim majority and significant non-Muslim minority which has been to a certain degree cleansed from the region, relatively small number of rebels (at first) motivated by the mixture of nationalism and Islam, indifference or even support of the heavy-handed government actions by the majority of population, at least until the casualties started to mount.

    Yeltsin ordered the army to occupy Chechnya for very similar reasons to boost his popularity believing it would be a cakewalk.

    Of course India now is not a failed state like Russia in early 90s so it may end up differently.

    1. Oh

      Kashmir was never semi-autonomous except on paper. There have been Indian troops there for quite a long time for whatever reason (presumably because Pakistan has been fomenting trouble).

      1. Alex

        Maybe not the best choice of words on my part. I think it would be fair to say it was less than fully controlled by the central government and had a special status. If it didn’t its revocation wouldn’t have been a big deal I suppose.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Fractal hegemony?

        It seems that, in regions of the world, and regions within those regions, etc., there are always hegemons, or wannabee hegemons.

  23. Off The Street

    Apologies if the linked article by RFJ, Jr. about pharma and more broadly about open discussions has been posted already. I happened across it recently and thought about the themes again while pondering the insurance company article about investigating their own clients.

    One question is whether the CDC or insurers have some blanket policy that ignores or negates the Hippocratic Oath?

  24. Boomka

    UK’s reclaiming of its sovereignity is going according to plan:

    The American officials said the U.K. should think of the tanker issue in terms of the broader relationship with the U.S., particularly as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government presses forward with departing the European Union and seeks a free-trade agreement with the U.S. While the people wouldn’t say the release threatens prospects for that deal, they added that the U.K. should ask if it wants to do business with the U.S. or Iran.


  25. Oregoncharles

    “The Failure to See What Jeffrey Epstein Was Doing – Visitors to his various homes would see young women there who looked as if they should still be in school. ”

    Just a skeptical note here: I’ve learned from experience that I can’t tell young people’s ages – in this case, young women’s. 15 or 25: I can suspect, but I can’t tell, and if she wants to look older or younger, it gets harder still. That’s partly my age, but even just out of college I was sometimes fooled. I think, in particular, of one small redhead I could have sworn was jailbait – but she’d graduated college. It works the other way, too. You’d have to actually see their ID.

    Of course, it’s still not a good sign; why would he want women around who LOOK underage? But it proves nothing, by itself. What matters here is the testimony of the victims – and that came later.

    1. JBird4049

      If it was just party or three, sure, especially with alcohol and whatever else. However, Epstein parties happen a lot and anyone who paid any real attention would have been aware of the possibility 10-15 years ago. Certainly after his conviction. So while I would give Joe Schlub a pass, someone like a Clinton can go to the nearest monastery.

  26. Heidi’s Master

    I went to the Sanders rally at Greenview Park in Columbia,
    SC. Greenview is in a black neighborhood. The speakers, in addition to Bernie, were all African American. They spoke about Bernie’s criminal justice reform proposals. The crowd was largely white women. The Sanders’s campaign needs to broaden its reach in SC.

    1. Carolinian

      He was here in Upstate SC at a black church a few months ago and the audience was maybe half white. Back then Biden wasn’t yet in. Sanders got a good reception here but I fear Biden may take the primary if he sticks around that long. Of course that’s hardly a given.

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