Links 8/25/19

The Summer of Shark Politics on Cape Cod New Yorker (re Silc)

The Contagion of Corruption Scientific American (The Rev Kev)

Smart ovens have been turning on overnight and preheating to 400 degrees The Verge (chuck l)

Cities Are Saying ‘No’ to 5G, Citing Health, Aesthetics—and FCC Bullying WSJ

Piled Up in Huge Lots, Volkswagen’s Reworked Diesels Trickle to Buyers NYT (chuck l)

Mark Carney calls for global monetary system to replace the dollar FT. And the text of his speech: The Growing Challenges for Monetary Policy in the current International Monetary and Financial System

Paris opens underground museum to mark 75th anniversary of liberation from Nazis Independent

Obama Still Can’t Build That WSJ, Some interesting info, once one ignores the reflexive anti-regulatory rhetoric.

Amazon struggles to police safety of products sold by third parties on its site, WSJ investigation finds Seattle Times

Class Warfare

Modernizing Bank Merger Review Yale Journal on Regulation

Koch Industries Looks a Lot Like Amazon BIG Matt Stoller

No Seat at the Table: Steven Greenhouse on Labor’s Silenced Voice Capital & Main

Obama’s New Documentary Is Great. It Also Reveals Why He’s Out of Touch Vice

Bankrupt coal operator gets OK to end 401(k) plan Pensions & Investments


Warning signs for Trump in a famous swing county Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

While “The World Is on Fire,’ DNC Kills Resolution for Climate Forum Common Dreams

Bernie Sanders says SF has made idea of free college ‘less radical’ San Fran Chronicle


‘He’ll go down in history as ‘Mr no-deal’ unless they get rid of backstop’ – Johnson and Tusk clash at G7 summit Independent (Ireland)

No-deal Brexit ‘will see more waste going to landfill’ BBC

Brexit: the blame game

Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit Guardian


A century after the Anglo-Afghan peace treaty, the Fourth Afghan War is about to escalate Independent. Robert Fisk.

Mohammed bin Salman’s Collapsing Coalition in Yemen Means Trouble for Trump Foreign Policy

We’re Listening to the Wrong Voices on Syria TruthDig (furzy). Maj. Danny Sjursen.

Guillotine Watch

The Word “Philanthropist” Is Poisonous Caitlin Johnstone

Our Famously Free Press

NPR Has A Blob Problem Lobe Log (re Silc)

Julian Assange

The Latest Victim in the Crucifixion of Julian Assange TruthDig

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Facial recognition: ten reasons you should be worried about the technology The Conversation


What is govt trying to hide, asks Congress as Opposition leaders barred entry into Srinagar The Hindu

This Time, the World Is Watching in Kashmir Foreign Policy in Focus

High hopes, hard realities for India’s Ladakh Asia Times

A disregard of consequences in governing the new India Scroll

Hong Kong

Hong Kong police fire tear gas as clashes return to city streets Agence France-Presse

Alibaba shows why things in Hong Kong may worsen Asia Times

More than two dozen arrests after chaotic day of protests in Hong Kong, as police are attacked with petrol bombs and tear gas is fired SCMP

Chief Executive Carrie Lam pressed by range of Hong Kong leaders to meet top demands of anti-government protesters, sources say SCMP


With the global economy slowing and the U.S.-China trade war escalating, Trump arrives at G-7 with a list of grievances WaPo

Trump dampens Macron optimism on Iran talks Reuters


Brazil’s Bolsonaro reverses on Amazon, announces plans to send armed forces to fight wildfires The Hill

Trump Transition

Trump Asserts He Can Force U.S. Companies to Leave China NYT

‘Senseless disputes’: E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars are damaging global economy WaPo

Democrats can’t just unwind Trump’s foreign policy Politico

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    High hopes, hard realities for India’s Ladakh Asia Times

    Ladakh has one big thing going for it – its remoteness. Leh is cut off for most of the year – the main road is largely impassible winter and spring. The Indian government spent a vast sum and about a decade building a year round road to link it to the main road to Delhi and gave up a few years ago, the terrain was just too demanding. And the Chinese road to Aksai Chin is really just symbolic, I believe its unusable for most of the year. So both China and India would probably find it logistically almost impossible to turn Ladakh into a battleground, even if they tried. Its physically separated enough from Muslim Kashmir that it can probably isolate itself from even the worst conflict there.

    The main threat to Ladakh is simply becoming swamped with non-Buddhist incomers, but the area is so hostile its hard to imagine many would take advantage of its opening, unless (and I wouldn’t put it past him) Modi took a Chinese style policy of pushing in emigrants to overwhelm the local ethnic groups.

    1. kr

      The newly elected Member of Parliament for Ladakh is a Buddhist youngster, from the BJP (Modi’s party). He is also a rising star in the BJP — see his speech in Parliament, welcoming the recent actions and hitting out at the two corrupt political families of the Kashmir valley.

      If anything, the threat is that the Buddhist majority has lost ground to Muslims in recent years but the Muslims are Shia from the Kargil region, not Sunni as in Kashmir valley.

      The BJP would strongly prefer a Buddhist majority in Ladakh; that also is important for geo-political reasons, as witnessed by the reaction from Sri Lanka (the SL president in a tweet highlighted Ladakh’s Buddhist majority aspect).

      The reason the people of Ladakh in general welcome the move to abrogate Article 370 — and make Ladakh a separate territory — is so they are not held hostage by the politics of the Kashmir valley.

      Not so sure about the people in Jammu area, who would have perhaps preferred trifurcation (as opposed to bifurcation) of JKL (Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh).

      For those of you interested, check out such detailed maps of “Kashmir” — the “problem” areas, namely the valley of Kashmir, is only six districts, and geographically a small part of what is commonly referred to as “Kashmir”.

    2. Janie

      Richard Halliburton lectured and wrote best-selling books in the 1930s about his workd-wide travels and adventures, including Ladakh. Current descriptions sound the same.

    3. Dead sheep

      I was in Ladakh in December 2016. Apart from the magnificent mountains and overall great if not freezing experience, I was surprised by the impressive amounts of Indian troops stationed there : military camps stretch for dozen of miles outside of Leh (at least on the Western road). There was a daily rotation of military cargoes from Leh airport, and occasionally fighter jets.

      While the situation is much less tense than in Kashmir, India is also well prepared for any event in this region.

  2. Ignacio

    Re: Brexit: the blame game

    The chances for any Art.50 extension, with Johnson under the PM helmet, must be close to nill. Any extension would require a no confidence vote succeeding and Johnson replacement.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, its hard to see any circumstances where the EU would agree to anything, except perhaps a very short term extension for technical reasons – and Johnson is so hell bent on ‘sorting out’ everything by 31 Oct he won’t seek that. All the politicians are interested in now is making sure history makes them look good, so the EU will do everything it can to appear reasonable, but I’m pretty sure they know by now (or will by mid September at the latest), that a no-deal on 31 Oct is pretty much baked in unless Remainers can do something dramatic, and I don’t think they are capable of that.

      1. Ignacio

        At the G7 Trump has offered Johnson a fast track treaty. That would certainly have an effect in future UK-EU negotiations and relations after no deal brexit.

      2. EoH

        Johnson’s version of sorting things out, based on how meticulously he handles his personal life, is to leave everything scattered about and let the college scout clean it up.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    No-deal Brexit ‘will see more waste going to landfill’ BBC

    This article seems to hide the real story – its a play by the landfill industry now that they aren’t constrained by the Landfill Directive. Shifting waste from south to north isn’t really viable, the road system can’t take that type of traffic. In reality, there will be an increase in incinerator capacity to deal with plastic waste – most incinerators can have capacity increased relatively easily once the waste is controlled. But all that ash will have to go somewhere, and into holes it will go, especially if the construction industry can’t absorb it.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      an anecdote regarding plastic:
      the city/county have been having a bit of a row about the landfill…it’s old, and will be “full” in a little over a year.
      city is taking the lead, by mutual agreement.
      for the last 5 years, they’ve been studying the matter, applying for permits, securing grants, etc…all was ready to go a few months ago to start work on the new landfill, adjacent to the old, on city/county property, in the “industrial zone” of the one town.
      then a new city council member…a california right wing free marketer suddenly objected. his idea was to instead build a transfer station…to gather the trash and truck it to a neighboring county to put in their landfill.
      Chaos! Acrimony! the City Council meetings had to move to larger spaces to handle the hundreds of citizens who attended the meetings…and the vast majority were for the original plan(Autarky= spending the $ to keep it under our control, right here, for the next 60+ years)
      the suspicion is that the lone dissenting city councilman got a kickback from somewhere…in addition to him being an antigovernment, free market whacko.
      so that’s done…we’ll maintain our own landfill.
      now, my prescient eyes turn towards the recycling center.
      which IS already a transfer station. recyclables are sorted and baled and shredded or whatever and sold on down the line.
      until very recently, the buyer has been china.
      that’s over, now…even before the trade war proper got rolling.
      so i spent a half a pain day learning about what it takes to recycle plastic.
      in the hopes that there was a way to keep a portion of that in house, too…providing jobs and revenue, perhaps…as well as maybe serving as a model for other far flung places in the wilds of rural america.
      it’s difficult…but not impossible, it turns out…but none of the things a small city/county could potentially do with their plastic trash would be easy, cheap or clean…without relatively large capital expenditure.
      I’m still in the learning phase of all this…but thermal depolymerisation…and plastic=>fuel looks like the best path….maybe with a little of the building material things they’ve come up with on the side(we already have a plant that makes green blocks(essentially cinderblocks for construcution that are made with the otherwise waste slurry from regular concrete, with cellulose added for strength, etc…one of our main nongov employers)
      My point in all this rambling is that I’m searching for a small scale, decentralised solution to this big problem…so i can put a bug in the ear of the mayor(whom i’ve known for 25+ years), so he can get out ahead of the next thing the crazy local right will be yelling about.
      what to do with the ash is still unknown to me…likely, as you say, a hole in the ground…but given the enormity of the problem with plastic, something must be done…and this appears to be one of those times when Lesser Evil applies.
      I appeal to the NC Commentariat for things i haven’t thought of, and whatever resides outside of the box.

      1. Ignacio

        Hi Anfortas, I guess that a few counties could unite in a central installation and sharing the cost of the needed investments would very much reduce the individual burden of each county.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          we have mutual aide agreements with fire and ems that work pretty well….and all those folks train together, which helps…but there’s a lot of intercounty rivalry otherwise. much of it, interestingly, is a hangover from 20+ years ago when they all played each other in football(we haven’t played any of them since then(UIL arbitrary rule changes)). There’s also long standing competition for limited(imposed scarcity, no accident) government largess(ag subsidies, etc) and access to markets and the like…and, more recently(since a bunch of the ag subsidies went away) hypercompetition for tourism dollars.
          this rivalry was ultimately what enabled the “remainers” to win in the landfill dispute….no one trusts the county to the north that has built/permitted their landfill to accept trash from elsewhere.
          it’s been the same kind of dynamic with everything from wind power to who gets the small manufacturer.
          neoliberalism, at ground level.
          my neighbors at least have me to come up with crazy ideas…but i’m just one guy(who would rather just stay on the farm), and haven’t the wherewithal to counter that hypercompetitive norm.

      2. Steve H.

        Burning plastic creates PCB’s, uber-toxins requiring sustained temperatures approaching 3000 degrees F to dissociate. Just… don’t, I pray you.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Not a technical expert, but I think the “green blocks” are probably your best model – that is, melt it mixed with filler (cellulose to sand, for different purposes) for a construction material. Trex, used for decking, would be the model. One advantage is that it ties up the plastic long-term, instead of burning it. As does the landfill, come to think of it.

        Another advantage is that it’s basically making bricks or tiles and could be done on a fairly small scale. I’ve seen articles about various projects but didn’t save them – you can look this stuff up at least as well as I can.

        I don’t recommend using it for pavement, one possibility, because heavy wear would produce great quantities of fine plastic dust. Low-wear uses are better.

        Good luck – great project. Hope it pans out. Let us know!

        The problem with trying to actually recycle the stuff, as in reduce it to new raw material, is that the formulas are very complex and you’ll wind up with a lot of toxic waste.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i don’t have the links to hand, but there was a bunch of stuff(and a lot of it from South Korea) about smaller scale trash to fuel…made a big deal about cleanliness, emissions,stack tests etc
          needs further research.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        Even while pursuing solutions to the problem of what to do with wasted plastic, is it too far outside the box to think at-the-same-time about ways for local-scale people to use less plastic to begin with? Or would the people of your area consider using less plastic and using non-plastic substitutes for plastic where feasible ( such as wooden or metal chairs instead of plastic chairs) feel to them like an existential-threat-level assault on their lifestyles?

        Because shrinking the amount of plastic used to begin with would shrink the disposal and recycling problem by just-exactly-the amount of the use-shrinkage.

        1. Carey

          I’m in full agreement about using as little plastic as possible.

          My impression, however, is that because of expanded oil
          and gas production via fracking, by-products that are
          “useful” in plastics production are prevalent, and if
          there’s a short-term profits to be made, well, never mind
          the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
          So the producers are shoving this stuff down our throats..
          more and more layers each time I buy something, it seems.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. beat me to it.
            it’s how everything comes.
            if i acquire a pair of pliers, it’s in that damned hard clear plastic as a theft deterrent(and customer frustrater).
            my bunch uses glass as much as we can(like baby bottles, long ago…and mason jars for leftovers), but the decisions about plastic are mostly made far upstream of us.
            similar situation to gasoline and oil…choice(sic) between a $5k used truck and a car loan(yeah, right) for an electric?
            propane or natgas…when propane is all there is for 50+ miles??
            I can boycott walmart for the rest of my life, for all the good it will do. it’s still the only place “close” to get those mason jars,lol.
            we’re embedded in the system, even out here(more so, in some ways)

    2. EoH

      Yes, as credible an argument by the landfill industry as Boris Johnson’s that a no-deal Brexit would wash away the EU’s bill for the divorce, arising from incurred but unpaid obligations. Next thing, Johnson will claim that leaving the EU will mean millions more per day for the NHS.

  4. Carl

    RE: American Factory
    I watched the film. It was more nuanced than I expected, and doesn’t shy away from some painful truths. Of course, you could always just watch the 1986 film, Gung Ho; it covers the same ground. If indeed Obama thinks the film is all about just sitting down with your adversaries and finding common ground, I’d say he’s completely delusional.

    1. Carolinian

      I vaguely remember Gung Ho–Michael Keaton, right?

      And from the article

      Obama has interpreted American Factory as a paean to how empathy can allow people to transcend political differences. “If you know someone, if you’ve talked to them face-to-face, if you know what their story is, you can forge a connection,”

      One wonders whether Obama, during his storied rise to the top, ever had a real job where you can be fired if you don’t do what you are told. He has empathy all right, but it’s with the order givers not the order takers. He foamed their runways and and schmoozed with them on Martha’s Vineyard. The two Obamas’ everything is personal attitude carries over into MIchelle’s friendship with George W. Sure he wreaked havoc and laid waste to a couple of countries but when you get to know him he’s a really nice guy. It’s not that these two people with their high achiever educations are stupid. They are just incredibly shallow.

      But the movie sounds interesting.

      1. Cal2

        It’s very well done and worth watching IMHO. It was horrifying to see what the soon to be fired American managers on their field trip to the Chinese factory saw; Chinese workers’ militarization and brainwashing, to and including children parading around and singing about efficiency.

        Not mentioned anywhere was NAFTA. I guess Obama and Company consider that off limits and down the memory hole. No mention of the financial parasite bankers that stole houses from all the workers whom Obama never touched with Eric “Place” Holder as his attorney general.

        Only the Tedious get a voice as Obama “looks forward”.

        1. carycat

          i saw that with my son and see it as just well drafted propaganda. after all, Obama is all about pr. just stop by any sports event and then talk about brainwashing and militarization, and I don’t think the Chinese have evolved to the point of “thank you for your service” every where, priority boarding, and special parking spots. all the talk of efficiency, anti-union sentiment, and screw the workers is standard issue (even celebrated) in American board rooms. this did not start with Obama, but the hope and change guy turned out to be 100% hope and 0% change.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I would urge everyone not to click and watch, the sooner this charlatan, liar, war criminal, and narcissistic fraud loses his public persona and circles the drain of The Memory Outhouse the better.

          Don’t buy from Amazon
          Don’t click WaPo or NYT articles
          Don’t turn on CNN or MSNBC
          Don’t perpetuate the Black Bush myth lies
          Do click ads for your preferred candidate or cause

      2. Jeff W

        “If you know someone, if you’ve talked to them face-to-face, if you know what their story is, you can forge a connection,” Obama says in the conversation.

        It’s what Liza Featherstone calls “a culture of consultation”—“one in which elites ignore the actual needs of the masses…but listen to them endlessly.”

        “Being heard” substitutes for real political wins, “moving forward together” (as President Obama says) means acquiescing to those in power, now that you’ve been “heard.” (We see the same thing in Hong Kong with Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s saying she will “set up a platform for dialogue with citizens”—“dialogue,“ of course, not anything about meeting any demands.)

        With Barack and Michelle Obama, I’m not so sure the whole “consultation/listening/empathy” gambit is some nefarious ploy. It might be that they actually think “being heard” is enough—they are, as you say, incredibly shallow and few people strike me as unreflective about and unaware of his own actions as Obama—he’s like a cipher, not only to everyone else, but himself as well.

        1. Off The Street

          Obama always struck me as someone who really didn’t know quite what to do once the thrill of all that organizing was gone and life went on. Process carried the day, with product typically an afterthought turned over to his minions, then off to a photo op. Not very charitable, I know, but history won’t forget all that Wall Street Financial Fraudster or Fast and Furious fallout.

        2. wilroncanada

          Sounds like Canadian federal and provincial governments in their relations with First Nations since settlers first arrived. Pretend you are consulting/ listening, while you’re occupying their lands or picking their pockets. By the time they realize they are being shafted it’s too late. It’s still going on. The empathy con.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the new Chinese owners perpetrated any outlaw criminal offenses against American labor law or pollution law or safety law, did the film go into any of that?

    2. Oh

      Obama’s idea of negotiating is to offer up everything the other side wants and more. He wants to reach across the aisle from the other side. He was and is still a fraud.

      1. Whoamolly

        I see Obama as a highly paid front man.

        The only question about this brilliant charismatic guy—in my mind—is ‘who is paying him’.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The immunised and impunified bankers, the foamed-runway owners, the Big Insura industry, the International Free Trade Conspirators, etc.

          Finding out who in particular is giving him which particular bags of which particular money and through how many layers of multiple cutouts and tax-haven no-inquiries-please secrecy-jurisdictions would be a very difficult and tedious investigative journalism project.

      2. Summer

        He’s a product of the constant desire around him to frame the problem as not being able to convince conservatives of this or that.
        That’s not the problem.
        Moving along and developing structures without them and believing you are enough without them is of high importance.

      3. Summer

        So we can criticize Obama (rightly in many cases) all we want, but he did exactly what I see continued on a daily basis: total energy wasted with worrying about changing the minds of a DC conservative faction (that crosses party lines) that is intent on dismantling what gave them power before it can be used to hold them accountable.

    3. DJG

      I am going to add this here because a credible person on my FB posted it (with misgivings about what the Obamas are up to) and Carolinian notes that the Obamas are deeply shallow. They are also lawyers, and my impression of many lawyers is that conflict of interest doesn’t exist for them till they are charged with a crime.

      Starting a new category? Obama Out-of-Touch Watch

      Let’s call this pile what it is, the Villa of Tiberius at Capri.

      1. So he made many Tubmans. Does anyone want to talk about trading on his positions? Or are we to believe that it is all due to his in-born talents?
      2. How does the Democratic Party drag him out on the campaign trail? Is he going to say, “Hey, folks in the fan club, look at what my Tubmans bought? And there’s the shack in D.C, too. Learn to code and you can have a place on Martha’s Vineyard.”
      3. As is the case of many deeply shallow people, what does register in their universe is gross displays of raw power. So it may be that what the Obamas respect most is raw power rather than power used well.
      4. At this point, and there has been speculation at Naked Capitalism, when do the Democratic candidates start distancing themselves? Obama had other options besides a multi-million-dollar summer house that is now appearing as aerial photos across the WWW.
      5. And finally: The place is one of those recently built mashups of twelve architectural styles. It’s vulgar. Hey, you want the octagonal sun room? And a great room? And the expensive freezer that takes up a whole wall? Sure. (Terribly surprising from the so-called Elegant Thinker, now isn’t it.)

      The reason that Obama thinks that life is just about sitting down with your class enemies, who are trying to take money and power away from you, over some cinnamon rolls is that he has been paid to say things like that. He isn’t the only deeply shallow person in the county making money hand over fist. Why, there’s Bezos.

        1. polecat

          Yeah, riding bare barack at that !

          Me thinks he’ll fall off his raw hide in dues time .. after chapping all his former ‘fans’ to shreds.

      1. Tomonthebeach

        To bolster the assertion that Obama is as shallow as say, an Oreo cookie, purchasing the Vinyard estate (notably brown on the outside and totally white on the inside) sends a clear message: “I do not care what you think about me. I got mine. So there!”

        1. Oh

          The guy never knew how the poor live including black people. He was born to a white mother and a good for nothing drunk Kenyan father. Throughout his high school days (in a rich man’s expensive school in Oahu) and his college days he did lines with this buddies and somehow got into Harvard Law School, the storied institution for obscenely rich people, frauds, liers and crooks. He cut in line in to get in to defeat another fraud, Hillary and happened to be there when the country was blaming Georgie Boy for the great recession (Crash is more like it). He spoke the words people were longing to hear while taking $$$$$ from Wall Street and told the big lie to get in. Fools that most of the Blue team people are they even re-elected him even after he foisted a Republican Health Care plan on them and bragged about selected target for his drone team.

      2. Acacia

        Regarding Obama as “out of touch”: here, in his own words, he speaks about being a Senator:

        Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means—law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. As a rule, they were smart, interesting people, knowledgeable about public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing of their opinions in exchange for their checks. But they reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class: the top 1 percent or so of the income scale that can afford to write a $2,000 check to a political candidate. […] And although my own worldview and theirs corresponded in many ways—I had gone to the same schools, after all, had read the same books, and worried about my kids in many of the same ways—I found myself avoiding certain topics during conversations with them, papering over possible differences, anticipating their expectations. On core issues I was candid; I had no problem telling well-heeled supporters that the tax cuts they’d received from George Bush should be reversed. […] Still, I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population—that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve. […] And perhaps as the next race approaches, a voice within tells you that you don’t want to have to go through all the misery of raising all that money in small increments all over again. […] The path of least resistance—of fund-raisers organized by the special interests, the corporate PACs, and the top lobbying shops—starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes. The problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought. (The Audacity of Hope, 113–115)

        This passage is quite illuminating. However, I’ll venture that it wasn’t just Obama’s experience as a Senator that “shallowed” him. Going back to 1990, he attracted considerable attention as “the first black president of The Harvard Law Review” — including fawning profiles in newspapers, and a book contract. Described as “a gifted writer” who “needed little editing”, Obama nevertheless missed the book contract deadline with an incomplete manuscript. He was then offered another contract, plus a $40K advance. He was also offered an office at the U. of Chicago to write the book, a law school fellowship, and a lectureship in the law school. All of this was just … offered to him.

        Obama struggled to write the book, which had morphed from a study of race relations into a personal memoir. From 1992, until he became a Senator in 2004, Obama was a part-time lecturer at U. of Chicago. During this period, Chicago invited Obama to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position several times — this was the motivation behind the office, the fellowship, and the lectureship — but each time he declined. He was only teaching three courses a year — not even a 2/2 load — but still he declined. For most university teachers in the US — and bear in mind that 76% are on temporary contracts, generally one-year, non-renewable — teaching three courses a year at U. of Chicago as a “senior lecturer” (he got promoted after four years) is a rather rare and enviable position. It meant Obama had a very comfortable position and, importantly, quite a lot of time for research and writing. Nevertheless, he struggled to publish even a memoir. What this indicates is that within the first two years at Chicago, Obama couldn’t see himself as a publishing academic. By 1995, the year his book finally came out (it didn’t sell particularly well), he first ran for the Illinois State Senate.

        Becoming “the first black president” of The Harvard Law Review opened all kinds of doors, a fellowship, a cushy lectureship at Chicago, a book contract, an advance, etc. Despite being praised as “a born writer” and given all kinds of support, Obama struggled to write his own memoir. He had a better shot at becoming a tenured academic at a prestige school than probably 99% of grad students in the US. All of this was offered to him on a plate — but he didn’t go for it. We could perhaps say he sought a higher calling in politics — or maybe becoming a professional courtier for the 1% just looked a lot easier to him than being an academic.

        1. Oh

          Thanks. That’s quite revealing. I wonder if he had a lot of help getting his books written by professional ghost writers. I say this from his struggling to make a speech when the teleprompter broke down. I suspect that he did not write his own speeches.

          Even today, thhere are too many people who are reticent to tell it like it is because too many of the fawning crowd have given Obama (0bama) the undeserving aura and halo that they have painted around him. It’s the same as worthless Raygun who was “infallible” to the masses, while he was picking their pockets.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Jon Favreau (not the guy from “Swingers”) is the name of his speech writer at least through the first term. He hosts one of those dimwitted “centrist” podcasts these days.

            I would argue Obama’s speeches were empty pablum and were entirely dependent on television. They had enough rhetorical flourishes to be kind of peppy, but I don’t think he could make it today in the world of cord cutting.

            And his books are dull. Obama didn’t need help to put those out. They are the equivalent of literary fast food for the professional class. The image of a black skinned, immigrant making good despite past problems reinforced stories about the meritocracy and made people feel good about… the 80’s and “greed is good.” Gordon Gecko is now okay because Obama made it.

      3. Procopius

        3. As is the case of many deeply shallow people, what does register in their universe is gross displays of raw power. So it may be that what the Obamas respect most is raw power rather than power used well.

        I note the same thing in Al From’s The NEW Democrats and the Return to Power. He celebrates regaining power, but that seems to be the whole point. What the power is used for, other than weakening unions and improving relations with bankers to continue receiving donations, is not really considered.

    1. ewmayer

      I get a “502 Bad Gateway” error for the original SciAm link, and searching for the article using DDG gives said link accompanied by an “Object Moved” note.

      Re. the Ariely link, I find the conclusion a bit too pat: “We found that paying a bribe makes people behave more dishonestly … it seems that corruption not only degrades the moral character of those involved, but those exposed to it as well.”

      The setup of the experiment points more to a “once people understand they are playing a rigged game, they behave more dishonestly” conclusion.

      1. Carla

        As George Carlin said: the reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it. As people wake up, they start to see how the game is rigged.

  5. Ignacio

    Re:Brazil’s Bolsonaro reverses on Amazon, announces plans to send armed forces to fight wildfires The Hill

    Forces armed with flamethrower.

    1. polecat

      Please allow me to parse the last part of that statement :

      “announces plans to send armed forces to fight wildly pissed-off indigenous …”

    2. J7915

      Regretably it will be a shoot if it moves. IIRC as was mentioned somewhere the ranch homesteads are untouched, amazing how wild fires can follow lines on the map.

      Bolsonaro does not resemble Col. Rondon who gained fame for for protecting the indigenuous population a century ago or so. At least in my recollection of Brasilian history.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    A century after the Anglo-Afghan peace treaty, the Fourth Afghan War is about to escalate Independent. Robert Fisk.

    The line, like all colonial frontiers, bisected people, tribes, families. It divided the home of the Pashtun people – Pashtunistan – and today’s Taliban are Pashtuns. Now that’s something to reflect upon. If Pashtunistan ever exists as a state, it will take part of Afghanistan and part of Pakistan to create it.

    Was that discussed at the secret Doha talks? Pakistan would want to know if it was. And what would Isis have to say about that? It is interesting, and quite sinister, that Sunday’s suicide bomber at the wedding house in Kabul came from – Pakistan.

    I do remember – it seems a lifetime ago – in 2001 when Robert Fisk wrote an article in an Irish newspaper saying that once the US got into Afghanistan it would have consequences that could last generations. Oh how the mainstream laughed at him.

    The reality is that Afghanistan is like a very large basket of eggs that is very broken. It doesn’t matter what the US does – stay or go – the people of the country will be suffering for decades for the mistakes made 18 years ago.

    1. Craig H.

      That was the most interesting bit. Who designed this latest plan where the U.S. negotiates with Taliban and leaves their puppets in Kabul and their frenemies in Pakistan completely out? There is zero chance of accomplishing anything positive and a fair possibility of making things far worse very fast. I wonder if the complete set of facts includes one faction of the U.S. government working at direct cross purpose to another? State is telling them one thing and Deep_State is telling them the exact opposite?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “The Summer of Shark Politics on Cape Cod”

    A bit of context here. Your chances of getting attacked by a shark are tiny. ‘On average, there are 16 shark attacks per year in the United States, with one fatality every two years.’ By contrast, someone drowns in a bath tub in the US nearly every day. If you want safety, shark nets are the way to go and I quote ‘In the years from 1900 to 1937, 13 people were killed off New South Wales surf beaches by sharks; over the next 72 years, the death rate fell to eight, only one of which was at a meshed beach. This in a period when the New South Wales human population rose from 1.4 million to seven million — and when more people began going to the beach.’ But you get other fish and mammals caught in those nets so you have to balance those against the loss of human lives. You would be surprised how many people say that other people should sacrifice their lives to protect the sharks (but never themselves). If you do nothing, you get this guy then-

    1. a different chris

      >You would be surprised how many people say that other people should sacrifice their lives to protect the sharks (but never themselves).

      Huh? It is swimming for pleasure, not catching fish with our bare hands to feed ourselves? And as you say yourself “you get other fish and mammals caught in those nets”. So it’s not just sharks they want to protect, but the whole ecosystem.

      Me, I’m fine with the nets with reasonable oversight but you went, um, overboard on this.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey, I’m totally cool with shark nets. They save lives. But some environmentalists get very emotional about the subject. For them people are expendable. And you would be surprised the number of times that I have heard of people attacked and even killed by sharks and the family members go on TV to ask the authorities not to kill the sharks.

        1. witters

          “And you would be surprised the number of times that I have heard of people attacked and even killed by sharks and the family members go on TV to ask the authorities not to kill the sharks” – And you go about them “being emotional” in their circumstances. Overboard is not the word.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Think about it. Once a predator has a taste for human flesh, then that is where the trouble starts. Some of those leopards for example that killed hundreds of people each started that way when they got their first taste of human flesh. Here you have to go by the precautionary method. Otherwise you may have to explain to the family of the next victim why you did not kill that shark first time around.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      I went to the north padre island national seashore(just south of corpus christi) a few years ago…went ten miles down the beach and fly fished naked in the surf for 2 days(it’s mostly empty down there, and federal…so no texas cops,lol). turns out i was a week or two early for the tarpon run.
      one morning, waist deep with the big surf fly rod, something bumped my leg. i looked down(water is exceptionally clear that time of year) and it was a 3-4 foot shark. he/she bumped my leg again and this naked hippie walked on water!
      marine biology co-eds passing by in a gas golfcart(looking for turtle eggs…only other people for miles) laughed uproariously.
      “it’s just a dogfish!”
      but it was the biggest dogfish shark I’d ever seen,lol.
      and the news had been filled with “shark attack on the texas coast!!!”…due to one person with a bleeding wound on their foot being nibbled at galveston(out of millions on the beach that summer)…so i was taking no chances.
      since then, when i wadefish(not very often, after all), i carry a knife on a rope lanyard.
      there are all kinds of sharks off the texas coast, and in the bays…but they are generally harmless–the big, 14 foot hammerheads can easily be spotted out fishing under the oil platforms–but they stay out there.
      up close, it’s nurse sharks, and smaller tiger sharks…and my understanding is that you almost have to try to get bit.
      with changing climate, this could change, i suppose…with changing migration patterns, etc.

      1. sleepy

        I’ve seen a couple of good sized bull sharks caught at the end of the fishing pier at Corpus Christi beach years ago.

        There were plenty of surfers around that pier too.

        I’ve also surf fished on northern Padre Island. Several times when I got a bite I’d haul it in only to have just a head on the line; something ate the rest while I was reeling it in.

          1. Wukchumni

            Was body surfing @ Doheny state beach in Dana Point earlier in the month when I saw a black dorsal fin arc through a wave 30 feet further out, and I thought to myself, I hope they use a good photo of me when i’m in the Daily Mail, pre-bite that is.

            But it was just a dolphin doing it on purpose.

    3. Lina

      I live on Cape Cod. The media buzz about sharks seems to be much more prolific than the locals talking about sharks. I don’t get why it’s such a big deal – stay shallow and avoid where the seals are. Or go to the pool.

  8. dearieme

    I think it pretty likely that the pearl-clutching about Brazil’s Burning is based on precious little.

    However, given how quickly the headlines have been grabbed I do wonder who is behind the hysteria and what their motives might be.

    1. Ignim Brites

      “We’re Listening to the Wrong Voices on Syria”. In this otherwise excellent article, Major Danny Sjursen attributes 9/11 to blowback from the US support of the Mujahideen in their struggle against the Soviets. It is more accurate to say the 9/11 was blowback for the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Storm, the first Iraq war to push Iraq out of Kuwait. This interestingly was not a “regime change” war, but was in line with US policy to gain global full spectrum dominance. While it is clear that Gabbard has singularly broken with the “regime change” strategy, it is not clear she has broken with the ideology of global full spectrum dominance, although that is implicit in the abandonment of “regime change” strategy as it was in the election of Obama in 2008, and given practical expression by Obama in ceding to Russia the leading role in Syria. That Gabbard stands most in line with the non-interventionist direction of Obama’s foreign policy is one reason to be optimistic about her chances. And this movement towards a non-interventionist foreign policy is strongest in California, which will likely be decisive in the Democratic primaries. Gabbard’s seemingly out of left field attack on Harris in the last debate is a little more comprehensible.

  9. Drake

    So I go from “NPR Has A Blob Problem”, showing identical twin right/left expert political opinion whores Pletka and Katulis hawking their disreputable wares on NPR, to “Democrats can’t just unwind Trump’s foreign policy”, and who shows up but ‘left-leaning’ Center for American Progress ‘foriegn policy expert’ Katulis to hawk his gilded, gelded mainstream opinions there too! Sometimes you can see the tentacles at work. The opinion manager’s work is never done.

    1. EoH

      NPR has a funding problem, which it solves by being as uncontentious as possible. Its vision of the Overton Window is so constricted, a gnat could not fly through it.

        1. Monty

          One problem is that folks with the resources to buy up radio stations never seem to be genuinely left wing…

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Non-profits will never have the money to buy radio stations.

          And the public radio stations are not owned by NPR anyway. They are not NPR’s to sell to raise money.

          They could dis-affiliate from NPR. Some public radio stations never affiliated with NPR to begin with. They run things like Free Speech Radio Network news and etc.

          ( And also, NPR supports other programs besides just the “news”. They also have some modestly worth-while other programs. I wonder when people from Naked Capitalism might begin to establish a strategic and tactical presence in the threads of those NPR programs which have comment sections . . . )

          1. Oh

            “They could dis-affiliate from NPR. Some public radio stations never affiliated with NPR to begin with. They run things like Free Speech Radio Network news and etc.”

            That might be the way to go for these affiliates.

      1. richard

        their viewers tend to be a bit on the old side too
        so they also have the “viewership dying problem”

    2. Balakirev

      I’m just chuckling at the writer of that NPR “expose” piece who hasn’t been aware for years of the blogs that either highlighted NPR’s attempts to dance with two right feet on a weekly basis, or the occasional firings of people that stepped outside the Blob’s reality. (Such as Lisa Simeone’s firing as host of NPR World of Opera after she appeared in an Occupy demonstration.) I have to congratulate Armbruster on taking note of this bit of typical NPR chicanery, but must wonder where he’s been for years.

      1. richard

        Alex Cockburn was pointing it out back in the 80s, with McNeil/Lehrer. You’re right; not exactly a bombshell.

  10. Ignacio

    Re: Smart ovens have been turning on overnight and preheating to 400 degrees The Verge (chuck l)

    Wow. IMO the real satisfaction of buying such ovens comes from the good feeling of telling everybody how smartie you and your home are rather than any actual welfare gain.

    1. Drake

      His oven turned on in the middle of the night, which he only noticed when he woke up four hours later, but luckily his “Nest cam footage captured the exact moment it turned on”.

      It was very cagy of them to associate the word ‘smart’ with such behavior, since ‘stupid’ was the clear and obvious choice.

      1. Antifa

        We moderns have more information about our movements and choices captured all the time. ‘Stupid’ is the notion that such data will not be examined, and put to use.

        How will it feel, years from now, watching your social credit score drop because your refrigerator isn’t ordering milk, eggs, and butter as fast as your collective peers? Or your car is later than their average for an oil change? Bad consumer! No credit for you!

        1. Robert McGregor

          “How will it feel, years from now, watching your social credit score drop because your refrigerator isn’t ordering milk, eggs, and butter as fast as your collective peers? Or your car is later than their average for an oil change? Bad consumer! No credit for you!”

          Without the need for “surveillance technology,” the Oligarchy is doing this now with “Wellness Policies.” You work for a big corporation, and participate in their health insurance–you’re not free to make your own medical decisions. Your doctor tells you to take blood pressure bills and statins, and god knows what else–even if you can present good arguments against him/her, the “Wellness State” can penalize you for not complying by raising your health insurance premiums.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If you save more money by avoiding the iatrogenic illness to be caused by the Big Corporate Medicine standard-of-care recommendations than what you pay in higher premiums . . . . it may still pencil-out for you to avoid the iatrogenic prescriptions and etc.

      2. tegnost

        maybe “smart” will become recognized as the weasel word it is, or a reference to pain (“Ouch! That smart’s!”

      3. GF

        Maybe the preheat function is triggered when the oven, at a set time of night, sends the previous day’s recorded data back to the factory??

    2. Crestwing

      I will snicker the first time that I hear about a smart refrigerator being held hostage by ransomware.

      1. ambrit

        What is really of concern is the recent spate of ransomware attacks on some city wide computer systems in America. Baltimore I believe and some places in Florida. Now shift the focus of attack to, say, a hospital or a waterworks. Then the harm shall be widespread and significant.
        If anyone wants to make a justification for drone warfare, let us send predator drones overseas and blow up a few ransomware hacker office buildings.

        1. Odysseus

          Lots more than just that.

          Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

          Wilmer — a town of almost 5,000 people just south of Dallas — is one of 22 cities across Texas that are simultaneously being held hostage for millions of dollars after a sophisticated hacker, perhaps a group of them, infiltrated their computer systems and encrypted their data. The attack instigated a statewide disaster-style response that includes the National Guard and a widening F.B.I. inquiry.

          More than 40 municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year, from major cities such as Baltimore, Albany and Laredo, Tex., to smaller towns including Lake City, Fla. Lake City is one of the few cities to have paid a ransom demand — about $460,000 in Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency — because it thought reconstructing its systems would be even more costly.

          1. Briny

            Furthermore, it appears that their systems were infiltrated months ago which usually means their backups have been corrupted as well.

        2. Procopius

          Actually, that would be legal under Obama’s precedent, the AUMF, and the 2014 authorization of military spending. Ransomware perpetrators can justifiably be called “terrorists” under Department of Justice guidelines, so they would fit on the “threat matrix,” which would allow them to be killed without judicial review. I’m sure there are guys in the DoJ hoping Trump will order that. As far as we know it would be a novelty to kill a non-Muslim in the continental U.S., but the precedent is there, just needs to be expanded a little.

      2. polecat

        Who’s ransomeware .. the stoves’, or the furnaces’ ?

        Next thing you know, the blender and disposal will be goin at it !

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Smart ovens for dumm people.

      ” I don’t need a smart house. I’m smart enough for me and my house together.”

      Maybe we should replace the word ‘smart’ with the word ‘spy’ wherever the Silicon Class Enemy uses the words smart house, smart stove, smart meter, etc.

      Spy house, spy meter, spy Nest, spy stove, etc. All connected together by SpyTooth.

    4. fajensen

      The naming rules in tech is that whenever a product uses adjectives in it’s name, the meaning of the adjectives becomes inverted. The other naming rule is that product suckiness will scale in proportion to the number of adjectives used (See: Simple Network Management Protocol :).

      Thus anything branded “smart” can be assumed to be “stupid”.

  11. Drake

    Trump Asserts He Can Force U.S. Companies to Leave China

    I saw some tweets yesterday in which liberals demanded that CEOs ‘stand up’ to Trump about this, which made me realize how low liberals have fallen. They are now begging their plutocratic overlords to direct the ‘resistance’ for them. Which is just wrong in more ways than I can list. For one thing, when did a CEO over stand up for anything other than the right to reap obscene profits with little to no oversight, accountability, or consequence? And we now have to defend their cozy relationships with Chinese autocrats because Trump? Liberals have painted themselves into so many illogical corners out of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Should make people wonder about just what happened on 911. But the left accepted the story the martinets wanted to put out…and so it goes.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have suggested before that there are Two Lefts . ( Leaving aside for now the Western Orthodox Church of Marx and its various sects and offshoots . . . )

        There is the Political Economy Left ( PE Left) which Sanders is trying to grow back from its vestigial stub.

        And there is the Culture Of Wokeness Left ( COW Left) which is working to finish exterminating the PE Left once and for all. These Clintobama Liberals are all “High Church” COW Leftists. And the Social Justice Creeps and Retards who infest and pollute the Universities and Colleges might be considered the Pentacostal and Holy Roller-type COW Leftists.

        And yes, the COW Left is a Left. It is just about the only Left left , nowadays. Sanders is trying to bring back the PE Left. And the COW Leftists are determined to stop him, so that they can exterminate PE Leftism once and for all. And then anyone who wants to be a “Leftist” can all be Intersectionalizational COW SJCRs together.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          What makes it a left? It doesn’t seem like a left to me. This is an honest question because all the neoliberal SJW open borders people I know consider themselves of the left, too. But I think they are just not correct.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Thank you, the way I see it the COW “left” champions the interests of bosses over the interests of workers (open borders), tries to destroy freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of the press, does all they can to escalate a New Cold War with Russia, and does all they can to foment regime change wars in places like Syria and Libya.

            Paging Abbie Hoffman. We need him for a ceremonial removal of the label “Left” from this crowd.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        isn’t that what things like foxxconn are?
        early on in the move to china, it was american corps(e) who sent management and the like along with the physical plant.
        I always assumed…but do not know…that those american corps(e) retained ownership…but at some point, sold it off entirely to CCP(or their proxies).

        the Economist had a big special edition a year or more ago about “State Capitalism” in china…and how they were “winning”…and if i remember right, china owns most of all that, today.
        clarification of that history would be welcome.
        say, from Nixon in China, on.

        1. Monty

          Uncle Sam was hoist with his own petard!

          Investors in the US got fat by selling the family silver over the past few decades. Now it’s all gone and they are crying foul and want a do over…

    1. kiwi

      Many comfortable liberals simply don’t care about workers or wages. Like Bill Maher, who longs for a recession, they couldn’t care less about the realities others face.

      I posted a comment about how important jobs and wages are on a supposedly ‘tolerant’ but mostly liberal website, and was called a bobblehead, stupid, racist, and some other negative things I cannot recall by one poster. And the comment was uprated by 7 (if I recall correctly) posters.

      I don’t believe that my belief that lack of good jobs and wages drive most of the problems in the USA today is far off from reality, not to mention the national security and risk issues associated with any country that allows the destruction of its manufacturing base like the US has done for decades.

      Further, these people haven’t a drop of integrity. Their beliefs (I really can’t say principles here, since they obviously have none) are driven by their opposition to Trump, whipped around, moment by moment, in a frenzy. Even me calling their thoughts ‘beliefs’ is far too complimentary.

      1. Summer

        Despite any problems China has, their advantage in the trade war is the total hatred for the workers in America….workers with rights that is…

        1. Synoia

          the total hatred for the workers in America….workers with rights that is…

          They have much company in the US.

      2. Drake

        “Even me calling their thoughts ‘beliefs’ is far too complimentary.”

        To me Biden’s campaign slogan “I Knew Obama” makes even Hillary’s “No Change You Can Count On” look substantial. His candidacy seems to be an admission from Dems that they stand for absolutely nothing, just completely bankrupt of ideas. Obviously Sanders has quite a few, which is why they’re knee-capping him, and Warren has some that are watered-down Sanders proposals tailored for wealthy white liberals, which makes me think they’re just window-dressing and theatrical guilt-soothing, and beyond this there’s just nothing but “elect us because Trump and we’ll feed you table-scraps”.

      3. Robert McGregor

        “Many comfortable liberals simply don’t care about workers or wages. Like Bill Maher, who longs for a recession, they couldn’t care less about the realities others face.”

        I like Bill Maher, but he is not as self-aware as I would like. It’s a “Class Thing.” If you’re rich and successful, then Career–Check! Financial Security–Check! Regular Sex and Beach House–Check! You’ve satisfied so many things in your life, but there is a “gnawing hole” in your comfortable world view called “Trump!” It’s like a perverse “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:” If you’ve satisfied all of your physical needs, then Trump looms like a terrible Death Star, and “Trump Derangement Syndrome” results. But if you’re on the other end of the class scale, you’re more worried about rent, food, health care etc., and Trump is just a secondary worry.

  12. timbers

    About those ovens turning on at night and pre heating….. “The ovens’ owners aren’t sure why this happened, and June tells The Verge that user error is at fault. The company is planning an update that’ll hopefully remedy the situation and prevent it from happening again…” Classic corporate BS. If it’s user error how/why is a software fix needed/gonna help?

    1. voteforno6

      Huh, I just bought a new oven, but I guess I really missed out on not getting all those “smart” features. I have to (quelle horreur) push the buttons myself to use it.

    2. ambrit

      “User error.” Isn’t that the excuse HAL 9000 used to trick Bowman and Poole during the ill fated ‘Discovery One’ mission to Jupiter? I detect the outlines of a pattern emerging.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      I bought a Samsung washer-dryer and only realized that it had “smart” features after it was installed. You can’t turn it off, either. Someone here probably knows more about it than I do. It’s all related to maintenance and repairs and transmits the info to a phone with NFC. Nothing like the oven or the other glorified remote control stuff but you can’t turn it off.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Thingfixers with digital AND analog skills and knowledge will eventually be able to make a good living by stripping the digital ticks and lampreys off of things like smart ovens, smart fridges, etc., thereby making them dumm analog appliances and safely obedient silent servants once again.

      Of course the hucksters of digital will void the warranty. But what good is a smart-stove-in-warranty if it will try to set your house on fire again and again and again? Better to make it safe with a digital lobotomy and then keep having it fixed whenever it breaks.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “As it happened: more than two dozen arrests after chaotic day of protests in Hong Kong, as police are attacked with petrol bombs and tear gas is fired”

    I heard that the Hong Kong police are going to ramp things up several notches. They are importing a few hundred French police fresh from cracking down on Yellow Vests. Seriously, can you imagine what would have happened if protesters had done similar stuff in a western country like the US? Using petrol bombs on police? Occupying Los Angeles International Airport? Thrown rocks and eggs against a major Police Headquarters? Hit police with baseball bats? And then demanded an inquiry into police brutality? That would have ended well all that. But our media would have given them a free pass.

    1. Cal2


      What kind of lasers are those people using? Seem far stronger than just laser pens.
      We have a nearby red light camera that gratuitously gives private corporation traffic tickets to law abiders.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      The police in Hong Kong have been very, very restrained. In the US (or France for that matter) hundreds of protesters would be killed for similar behavior. Heck, in the US black people are killed by police for sport. It may well be time for China to send in the army and restore order once and for all. The US (or France for that matter) have no moral high ground to occupy and so must remain silent.

    1. JEHRr

      Good point. Both Carney and Keynes propose a similar system that doesn’t give “reserve” status to one country’s currency. It would be very interesting so see it implemented.

  14. Lee

    Re Deception on Amazon:

    Even when searching for a very specific item, Amazon (from whom I buy nothing) and some other sites often claim to have said item it but it turns out they don’t. Home Depot’s website will even tell you the exact number of of a certain item they have at their location near me, only to find when going there they have none and it must be ordered. This, of course defeats the whole purpose of a brick and mortar store where one can actually set eyes and hands on a thing to just its fitness for purpose. Plus, their staff know nothing. Although one staff member did admit that their website was reliably unreliable.

    1. Randy

      I “just” placed an order with Home Depot. It will take Home Depot 14 days to ship my item from Joliet, IL to my store (approximately 500 miles away from Joliet). It is a good thing I am in no hurry to obtain this item, I might have had to order from Amazon.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Re the WW2 Liberation of Paris film footage. Just for contrast, here is British Pathé footage of the German occupation of Paris four years earlier. By the time of the Paris Liberation, most of the young men in uniform seen here would probably have been dead by then in the fields of Russia, the deserts of North Africa, and dozens of other battle fronts.

    1. David

      If you are at all interested in the Second World War and find yourself in Paris you should definitely go and see the new museum, which tells a story not much known in the Anglo-Saxon world. The history of the French Resistance is complex and controversial even today, although the linked Independent article is quite a good summary. An important tendency, led by the Communists, wanted an all-out popular war against the occupiers, and carried out bombings and assassinations, which provoked a bloody German response. But de Gaulle, through Moulin, was able to impose some discipline on the different Resistance groups and turn them towards preparing for and supporting the Allied invasion when it came.
      But the most important function of the Resistance is hardly known today. The Americans disliked and distrusted De Gaulle, and were always scheming to replace him with someone more malleable and reliably anti-Communist. They intended to appoint a US General to run the country after the Liberation, with some figures recycled from discredited governments of the past. Had this scheme been successful, it would have turned the low-level civil war that the country experienced between 1941-44 into something really nasty along the lines of what happened in Greece a little later. The US would probably have allied with the remnants of the former Vichy regime to crush the Communists. The job of the Resistance was to set up a shadow government in waiting, and to take control of key towns and cities before the Allies arrived, which they were largely successful in doing. Paris was a bit different because De Gaulle wanted the Resistance to wait, to coordinate the rising with the entry of LeClerc’s forces. But the rising started several days early, and there was serious fighting in the city with several thousand casualties. You can still see the bullet holes today.

      1. neighbor7

        Wow, thanks, that is fascinating! I want to read more about this aspect of the Resistance. Any suggestions?

        1. David

          Difficult if you don’t read French. A good source is the memoirs of Michel Debré who organised the shadow government. The biography of De Gaulle by Jean Lacouture has been translated into English in a shortened form. Otherwise try Robert Gildea on the Resistance in general and Julian Jackson among others on the occupation.

          1. SKM

            and David, please, do you have any sources for those who read French please – I and an Italian friend would love to know more about this, thanks

            1. David

              I don’t have my bibliography to hand alas, but off the top of my head the best introduction to the Resistance came out earlier this year, a multi author book entitled La Lutte clandestine en France. Une histoire de la Résistance
              1940-1944. There are several good biographies of Jean Moulin, which touch on the confusion and disunity of the Resistance, including JP Azema and Daniel Cordier who was Moulin’s secretary. The original French edition of Lacouture’s bio of De Gaulle has a lot on the period, as do Debré’s memoirs.

          2. Cal2

            The Resistance serves as an excellent model for the citizens of San Francisco before the occupation government running our city into the ground.

            Non-cooperation, propaganda and civil disobedience are the best weapons. No need for violence. Not much to sabotage other than parking podiums.

        2. Norm de plume

          I recently watched The Sorrow and the Pity, Marcel Ophuls’s 4 hour doco on the Resistance, the collaborators, and most importantly, the vast compliant centre which outnumbered both. Ie, those unwilling to explicitly back either side in the hope that they would emerge unscathed if they kept their heads down.

          He interviewed the citizens of one smallish place (Clermont Ferrand) over a long period as a stand in for all French towns. What struck me was how freely the collaborators and the silent majority admitted their actions, or lack of them, and how the genuine resisters appeared not to hold these against them in later years.

          The point was made re de Gaulle that his overriding concern was to prevent a civil war, to knit his broken country together and try to restore national unity. He knew he could use his unique position (acceptable thru his heroic military stature to the right and thanks to his implacable anti-Nazism to the left, with his irreducible French patriotism the cherry on top for both) to steer a middle path which, after the immediate postwar persecution of known collaborators, would return France to something like normalcy. Only a united France could stare down the threat of Allied, particularly American domination.

          This doco indicates that enjoyed a fair degree of success in that effort.

          1. Procopius

            Bear in mind that the French had experience of violent changes of government since 1789. One of the delays in our invasion of North Africa was the negotiating over continued vesting of pensions for civil servants and soldiers in accordance with French law. Can’t remember where I read that, probably Churchill’s history. It seems if certain events occurred then it was OK for civil servants to continue in their jobs, but working for the new government with no loss of seniority. That applied to soldiers, as well, but the military law was different. That was an important consideration for many millions of French people.

      2. Harold

        They wanted to do something similar in Italy, too. IIRC, one plan was to break it up into two countries, Northern & Southern, but the Italian Resistance forestalled them by taking over Torino and getting it functioning before the allied armies could get there. It was the British that were behind this particular plan, I believe. This was covered in by Annibale in his series on the War Nerd.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Unbelievable. North and South Italy. That idea could have gone down with other such successful ideas like North and South Ireland, North and South Korea, the division of India into India and Pakistan, East and West Germany. It looks so easy on paper.

      3. Plenue

        I can actually offer a video game link relevant to the liberation of Paris. Battlefield V features a series of mini-campaigns focused on more obscure aspects of WW2, one of which follows Senegalese colonial troops, who after shedding blood to help liberate France, aren’t allowed to take part in the victory parade in favor of more ‘familiar faces’.

        1. David

          Yes, this is another little known but important episode. De Gaulle actually had very few troops of his own. Two thirds of the Free French forces who landed in the South in 1944 were colonial troops, most from Africa but quite a few from Indo-China. But De Gaulle was desperate to avoid the country coming apart from the stresses of the Occupation, and quiet deliberately set out to create a healing myth of general resistance to the Germans. He was quite aware that in doing so he was downplaying the role of the actual Resistance, as well as the colonial troops, but this was a deliberate political choice. It could not be acknowledged that De Gaulle was so short of French troops that Paris was liberated by colonial soldiers. And the importance of this fact helps to explain why the French clung to their influence in Africa for so long. Incidentally the OB of Leclerc’s Division is fascinating : it included quite a few Spanish Republicans for example. See

      4. Wukchumni

        My dad was the type that never talked about WW2, Hogan’s Heroes would come on, and he’d walk in and say something such as “They weren’t so dumb, you know” and then waltz out, he couldn’t watch it, for he got the whole kit and kaboodle of being occupied for 6+ years by the Nazis…

        Then one day as we were driving to Death Valley to watch the Hale Bop comet doing it’s thing, he opened up to me for the first and only time ever about his experiences in WW2, and he was in the Czech resistance, and when the Prague Uprising came he talked about throwing a potato masher grenade @ a halftrack below in the streets and hitting it and a few other daring do things a 20 year old does, and then something inside him turned it off, as suddenly as it was turned on, and his memories went to the grave with him.

        He’d seen things no teenager could dream of, when we were in Prague around the turn of the century, he pointed to a fairly nondescript wall, and matter of fact told me that said wall was where the Nazis would line up whomever was deemed worthy of punishment, followed by a volley of shots. He reckoned well over 1,000 Czechs met their demise on a wall that stands oh so anonymously now.

  16. flora

    “‘Senseless disputes’: E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars are damaging [neoliberal] global economy – WaPo”

    fixed it. ;)

  17. katiebird

    I’ve had a problem all morning accessing NC through Safari on my iPad. After a second or so, the tab is taken over by a so-called contest for Apple customers. Over that Tab is a pop-up window giving me the opportunity to click on an OK button.

    I’ve been Xing out of the tab and using FireFox with not trouble. But have rechecked a couple of times and get the same results.

    This is new this morning…..

    1. Schmoe

      Same for me, but only on the Chatham HF link. I also get error messages, only on NC, that my iPhone has been hacked. That started a few weeks ago.

      1. Tomonthebeach

        Notices like your iPhone is hacked is often just phishing to sell you antimalware you could install for free. In some cases, if you click, they try to hack your phone (not good). Don’t go there. One way it is done is that they infect the adware and dump a cookie or two.

    2. Yves Smith

      I am sending this to our tech team, but since everyone accesses our site through Cloudflare, it is hard to see how this is a Naked Capitalism issue, as opposed to a local issue.

      1. katiebird

        I just cleared my cookies and history and that seemed to clear it up. Thanks for the Cloudflare info….

          1. katiebird

            Apple community support pages advise avoiding sites where this happens. Luckily I have an alternate browser that is unaffected. Should I contact Cloudflare?

                1. Ruby Furigana

                  This suggests to me the issue may be related to your Safari client:

                  I’ve had a problem all morning accessing NC through Safari on my iPad. After a second or so, the tab is taken over by a so-called contest for Apple customers. Over that Tab is a pop-up window giving me the opportunity to click on an OK button.

                  I’ve been Xing out of the tab and using FireFox with not trouble.

                  Might be worth making sure you’ve got all the latest patches from Apple installed.

            1. richard

              I get the exact same screen now and then when I go to another site I frequent (though not so frequent as this one :)), Baseball Reference. I’ve never got it here. I always just reboot my device and then it’s not there. I guess I could have cleared my cookies too.

    3. fajensen

      Maybe check your browser extensions? Sometimes a legitimate browser extension is sold off to spammers and then reprogrammed to inject adds and malware.

      There is a really nasty thing named “”; It is very easy to get infected by it and more or less the only way to get rid off it – and all of its spawn – will be a full system restore from backup.

    4. JohnnySacks

      Chrome on Android hijacked nakedcapitalism’s site to the same type of malware/adware/phishing page, only for Google. Pretty nefarious, but no harm done other than back-stabbing this site by preventing the legit ads from never being seen (at least if you don’t click anything in the hijack page).

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats can’t just unwind Trump’s foreign policy”

    That is not true that! Democrats say that they can unwind Trump’s foreign policy. And they have their Donor’s permission to say so.

    1. Drake

      This, deep within the article, is where it starts admitting the truth:

      “Trump also may have given cover to Democrats for series of foreign policy steps that they would have wanted to take but avoided because of the political difficulties.

      For instance, past presidents, including Obama, had promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but they eventually opted not to, citing security concerns and other issues. Trump actually kept his promise to move the embassy, and several Democratic White House candidates already have indicated they wouldn’t reverse the steps.”

      Bad man does bad things, and we condemn them, but unfortunately now we have to live with them…the geisha girls from the Center for American Progress will tell you why on NPR.

  19. JohnnyGL

    Trump To Wipe Out Student Debt For Disabled Veterans

    This is both a concession to Bernie, but also a perfect opportunity for Bernie. Trump has just conceded that Sanders has changed the political landscape and that Trump, himself, is just shifting to adapt to it.

    Sanders should compliment Trump for doing the right thing, but quickly pivot to calling him timid and weak for not wiping out ALL student debt. At its core, this is what centrist democrats wanted to do with Russiagate. They just wanted to find an issue where they could sound tough and accuse Trump of being soft. Of course, Russiagate was disingenuous and idiotic and dangerous. But, now Bernie is in a perfect position to do what team Dem so desperately wanted to do.

    1. EoH

      As usual, the devil will be in the details, and that doesn’t take into account Trump’s remarkable ability to repeatedly change his mind owing to the slightest pressure from a donor.

      1. polecat

        Donor Pressure afflicts almost All of the top-tier parasitic class .. tis a shame there’s not a remedy for that.

        Hey, maybe someone can present a propectus to a well-known pharma to develope a 1% poison pill … humm.

    2. Drake

      However much they try to airbrush Bernie out of this race (like the famous ‘Warren/Harris tied for third place behind Biden’ headline which never mentioned who was in second), and pretend that he doesn’t stand out anymore because ‘all of the candidates have adopted his stances’, he’s been fantastically good at driving the issues down everyone’s throat, now apparently even Trump’s.

      Your suggestion is a good one.

    3. Tomonthebeach

      As is typical of Trump largesse, the number of people affected by this freebie is quite small, but grandiose rhetoric makes it seem like patriotism. Most of us military retirees leave with a VA disability rating. Warrioring is dangerous work after all. However, this gift will almost surely go to the small group of 100% disabled attributable to combat. That narrows the field biggly.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Mohammed bin Salman’s Collapsing Coalition in Yemen Means Trouble for Trump”

    I can hear Mohammed bin Salman now: “Don’t worry friends, invading Yemen will be a cakewalk. They’ll throw roses at us. It will be all over in time for the Pilgrimage to Mecca.” Four years later, Saudi Arabia is being left twisting in the wind and only one drone strike away from losing a major oil refinery. There is a report that Israel is going to help the Saudis strike targets like the Houthi in Yemen but does Mohammed bin Salman really think that this will play well in Arab Street?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      The US, the Saudi, and the Israeli government’s actions over the decades show that they have no interest in doing anything other than promoting chaos in the region. That’s the strategic goal all for different reasons of course. The US (Washington neocons who run foreign policy) wants to create chaos in the societies of the infidel by destroying civil society so that small feudal duchies can be established who can easily be manipulated (see the US strategy in Syria) and for the true-believers in the neocon community, to build up, from the ground up new societies motivated not by a community of faith but by individuals seeking their self-interest in Chicago-school worker’s paradises and so on and so on. The Israelis just want to see their neighbors in chaos because, well, they are Israelis. The Saudis motivation is mysterious but some writers who’ve investigated the family believe it to be, by far the most corrupt ruling elite in the world and radical corruption is always confusing to outsiders–but the shorthand version would be CIA.

      1. J7915

        OT maybe, but what is the strategic value of Israel to the USA? Would there have been an al queda issue if the US military had been based in Israel vs in the Land of the 2 holy mosques? Have US casualties maybe had better outcomes if the US mil could have made use of nearby Israeli medical facilities, vs flying to Ramstein AB for treatment. How many more mission from Lot iarpt vs Diego Garcia or Shreveport, LA?

          1. rowlf

            I thought you had named it Fort Meat Shield before in earlier posts?

            As for patriotism, is it for the US or for Saudi Arabia and Israel? This stuff is all getting very confusing. Can’t we just build up our coastal defense and be safe?

            1. The Rev Kev

              I thought it very rich at the time when the US general there pledged those very same American lives in the defense of Israel. I bet that that went down like a lead balloon with those soldiers as in “Dude! I didn’t sign up for that!”. I heard Chuck Schumer say not long ago that as long as there were two bricks standing together in America, that they will still pledge their total support for Israel. In geopolitics, it is usually the client state that swears loyalty to the patron state but here is a case where the patron state is swearing allegiance to the client state. It does not pay to depart from tradition here I think.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Free your mind, who is the patron and who is the client?

                If a faction or tribe controls the financial, advertising, media, and entertainment industries of a nation they have a lock on controlling the nation.

                And then just ask “cui bono?”

                Ask that question of all of the big moves (9/11, Iraq, Syria, Iran) in this hateful new millennia and the pieces all fall into place.

                We’re so conditioned to think about “America’s interests” and then throw up our hands in confusion when we can’t find any in the latest chess moves

  21. Tom Stone

    One of the unsafe things found on Amazon the last year or so is full auto switches for Glock hanguns, made in China.
    Apparently someone who bought an airsoft replica of a glock 18 decided to see ifthe switch would work on areal Glock, and it does.
    Now the feds are using paypal in an effort to track down who bought them.
    FWIW one blog showed how you could make your own using a pair of pliers and a metal coathanger…
    “Fits all models of Glock Pistols”.

  22. EoH

    Why would the Hill assume – via its headline – that Bolsonaro is reversing his policy rather than moving superficially to undercut his critics while keeping his policy in place? He could as easily use his army to control local dissent from indigenous tribes as much as to fight fires.

    The headline is woefully similar to the many about Trump, wherein change of tactic is credulously reported as a change of policy. Marcie Frost talks about open and transparent management, for example, but who beside the SacBee would accept it as fact?

  23. noonespecial

    Re: Brazil’s Wildfire

    An article appears in a Colombian newspaper about the current situation. Highlighting concerns, the Ex-Minister of the Environment in Brazil, Marina Silva (served at this post from 2003 – 2008) shares her views on the conflagrations.

    Note that the original is in Spanish.

    Quick translation of two points raised by Ms. Silva:

    1. The president’s son and senator, Eduardo Bolsonaro, presented along with another national representative a proposed law to modify Forestry Codes and end with reserve zones. Currently, there is a moratorium on how much of each piece of private land in the Amazonia can be developed – only 20 % can be developed, the rest must remain forest. Eduardo’s proposal is to end this restriction, liberating some 15 millones hectares of Amazon forest for agribusiness, and deforestation would increase more than 40 %.

    2. While I served as Minister of the Environment, economic growth increased to 3%, with periods of growth above 5%. Agribusiness grew at 2%, and yet deforestación decreased dramatically. This shows that the relation between the destruction of the forest and GDP growth is not real.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Trump dampens Macron optimism on Iran talks”: ‘Macron has also said that in return for any concessions he would expect Iran to comply fully with the nuclear deal and for Iran to engage in new negotiations that would include its ballistic missile program and regional activities.’

    Sounds like Macron is trying to suck up to Trump with this idea so that Trump won’t put a tax on French wines. Those concessions that Macron mentioned is actually what Iran agreed to in the deal but which Trump reneged on. Even if Iran agreed to a new deal, there is no guarantee that Trump might bail on the new deal. Those aren’t even Trump’s demands by the way that Macron mentioned. Those are Israeli demands which Trump is repeating on Netanyahu’s behalf. Let’s break that statement down a little more.

    He says ‘he would expect Iran to comply fully with the nuclear deal’. Newsflash. They still are and it is the US and the EU – including France – which is reneging on that treaty. And ‘its ballistic missile program and regional activities’. Iran does not have a great military but its missiles ensures that they are not invaded or bombed by whichever country happens to feel like it so that demand is not going to happen. By regional activities that means stuff like fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda. A lot of countries have never forgiven Iran for stopping Syria and Iraq being totally overran by ‘moderate’ head-choppers. For Iran, it is a matter of defense in depth. Bah! Macron is a political midget and de Gaulle would be looking down in disdain.

    1. Procopius

      He says ‘he would expect Iran to comply fully with the nuclear deal’. Newsflash. They still are and it is the US and the EU – including France – which is reneging on that treaty.

      Thank you for pointing that out. The MSM always expresses it the other way. The Grand Ayatollah pointed out that they have no reason to talk to the Americans, who are acting as if at war with Iran. There is no reason to trust the word of any American, and there is no reason to think that any treaty with Americans would last until next Tuesday. I have to agree with him, and this is one of the foreign policy things that the Democrats would not be able to reverse easily if they regained power.

  25. Pat

    One of my big objections to smart ovens was always that they could be told to turn on at the highest temperature possible remotely, and of course that would not be limited to the owner. This coupled with peoples tendencies to keep things in their ovens was and is a recipe for a fire.

    Mind you, this wasn’t my brilliance. There were several news stories in the NY area about a decade ago about fires including one that destroyed a home that turned out to be triggered by ovens turning themselves on. Not smart ovens but ovens with a digital control panel. Turned out a bunch of low to medium priced ovens had some flaw where the digital control would essentially restart and do so in an on position. I remember this distinctly because yes my oven would periodically turn itself on, so they confirmed something I luckily had already figured out as Blaming my cat only worked once. I ended up plugging the stove into a surge suppressor and use its on and off switch as a way to turn off the oven controls when it is not intentionally in use.

    Unfortunately “unplugging” a smart oven is probably not a consideration for the people who bought one.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yup. we needed a new one last year, and the dumbest one they had(at the 100 year old bidness we go to) was still digital(and “programmable”, whatever that means). so powerstrip it is, so i can turn it off for reals when we’re gone.

      1. Chris

        Oh please don’t plug those devices into common power strips. Appliances aren’t supposed to be connected to those devices. I’d rather you trip a properly installed GFCI circuit if you’re so concerned. I get that the worry here is cost and potential fire but plugging things like air conditions and ovens into power strips will guarantee you a fire in the future. They’re not designed for that kind of thing.

        1. JBird4049

          Gee, I guess I should be happy with my old idiot electric apartment stove.

          There is a market for vintage and antique stoves that are either gas or electric. Everything from needing complete restoration to completely restored. It looks like that there are some good deals, but you have to search a little bit, or if have the cash you can get stoves that are much better than today’s at least in reliability.

          I understand that generally it is only the best stuff that is kept over time, but I still feel that the quality of our current stuff, appliances, tools, houses, clothes, are all of lower quality than of forty years ago. Each decade just a little bit worse than before.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Are smart ovens designed for idiots ? after all if a person is smart why would they need one ? Me I guess being an old fella who is probably just missing the point & has a very good relationship with an old Smeg.

          2. polecat

            I’ve considered the purchase of an old wood-burning cook stove, on the principle that gas and/or electricity delivery could become unobtainium should various ‘situations’ arise. We have plenty of wood/forests around these parts .. the Olympic Peninsula hasn’t yet become like the denuded mountainous terrain of Afganistan ..

            1. Oregoncharles

              A friend, back in the 70s, had a wood cookstove right across from an electric dishwasher. There was quite a lot of philosophy in that arrangement.

          3. Carl

            I have a 1952 Chambers stove that I bought on local Craigslist for $400. You’d need to buy a commercial stove to match it’s performance. Also came with the warranty paperwork–25 years. As a bonus, it’s a wonderful piece of kitchen art.

        2. Elspeth

          As an EE it’s about amps, thus wire & switch sizes, NEC® rating, GFCI isn’t normally found on oven circuits.

          1. polecat

            If, for some reason, I was the unfortunate owner of a ‘smart oven’ .. I’d be rewiring that circuit to a dedicated fuse at the service panel, post haste .. assuming it wasn’t connected to one aready !

            But then, what do I care if some hip idiot decides to do the unthinkable, and purchase one of these ‘pliances’ in the first place !
            Have at it, TechBros & Brodetts !

          2. Chris

            True! But most commercially available power strips aren’t rated for ovens. Too many fires from people overloading power strips.

            The ovens I’m most familiar with require at least a 40 Amp breaker on the circuit.

        3. Amfortas the hippie

          its propane, with the digital controller/clock,and the little sparky-things instead of pilots, etc
          didn’t even come with a grounding plug…just a two-prong…thin wire, like a lamp.

          ive been a the electrician(and plumber, welder, carpenter,etc etc) around here for 25+ years.
          for the first 10 or so, if your name wasn’t one of the pioneer names, you couldn’t get a pro to show up.
          i would have preferred a much stupider version, but there it is.

        4. Pat

          My stove including the oven is gas. The only things electrical are the oven control panel and the burner ignitions. Most computers have a greater electrical load. In my case a regular surge suppressor is more than adequate.

          But yes it would be totally inadequate and a fire hazard to use one with an electrical oven.

  26. Schmoe

    “The Saudis motivation is mysterious but some writers who’ve investigated the family believe it to be, by far the most corrupt ruling elite in the world and radical corruption is always confusing to outsiders”
    – and on a totally unrelated matter, MBS has been associated with Epstein, but to what degree and specificity, I am not aware.
    – I wonder how sustainable MBS is, and if it’s true that he is guarded by Xe (f/k/a Blackwater) guards. Regardless, I doubt if his sustainability will be helped by enlisting Israel to fight other Muslims (even if they are deemed infidels by Wahabbis).

    1. ewmayer

      Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
      Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper

      Come, let’s mix where Rockefellers
      Walk with sticks or “umberellas”
      In their mitts
      Crashin’ Biarritz…

    2. The Rev Kev

      I suppose that if France gets Iran to surrender, then Trump’s next demand will be that Iran opens itself up to US financial firms and relaxes its financial regulations to allow ownership of Iranian companies by overseas interests, just like he is demanding of China.

        1. wilroncanada

          Except that he would make it personal…He wants a cut, under the name Kushner, just to keep the arrangement above board. A verrrry low board.

  27. Chris

    Further data points into the details of a supposedly wonderful economy and the people doing very well in it. The school district budget for where I live for the 2019 2020 academic year is 998 million US$. That budget covers administrative staff and 77 schools, 42 of which are elementary level (K-5). My local and state taxes are significant for the area but the quality if education and opportunity here are also significant. And my property taxes are lower than my family member’s annual dues in places like New York and New Jersey so I guess I can’t complain. I get a relative bargain on high quality schools for my kids.

    Yet even with that generous budget and generous taxes and a supposedly upper class to wealthy pool of parents sending their kids to schools… I get a school supplies list where I am expected to purchase additional supplies for the classroom. I also know our teachers will on average spend about $400 of their own money getting classroom supplies. We’ll also get regular requests during the school year for things like pencils, tissues, white board markers, etc.

    It leaves me with lots questions.

    With a $1 billion budget and not that many schools, why do I have to buy supplies for anyone beyond my kid? Why do teachers need to spend their own money? Why will the schools run out of ink, printer paper, and other office supplies around Christmas time forcing the teachers to tell the kids that we have to print homework sheets at home? Where is all that money going? And if all these parents are so well off, and everyone is contributing the requested supplies, why do we run out?

    Take pencils for example. My kid has to bring at least 24 with her to school on the first day. She gets to keep 8 and the remainder go into the class room supply bin. There will be 25 other kids in her class. That should give the class a minimum of 400 pencils to use in the classroom in addition to what the students leep for themselves. The school year is 180 days. Assuming that 10% of the pencils are broken or can’t be sharpened means each student in my kid’s class should have 2 pencils per day extra during the academic year. Yet I know we’ll get a request for more and better pencils around November/December this year. Where are all the pencils going?

    Maybe the other parents aren’t really as well off as they appear? Maybe no one besides a few people actually get the items on the list? Maybe parents don’t care and get only what their kid needs? I don’t know. And they’re only pencils so I don’t really care if I buy 10 or 40. I’m happy to donate to my kid’s class. And yet…I really shouldn’t have to. If the productive and measured economy is doing so well, why don’t the schools in my district with the huge budget have enough supplies for the year?

    I don’t know how to determine the answers to any of these questions. But if they involve either callousness or budget problems it’s just one more sign that we’re really not doing as well as we’d like people to think.

    1. JBird4049

      Corruption, corruption, corruption. The schools here in California are generally underfunded and the money too often gets siphon off away from teaching into the already bloated administration, to consultants, and to anything but teaching.

      One of my acquaintances would frequently complain about the latest multi year improvement plan that would always be scrapped midway for another improvement plan, which were always implemented by the current batch of consultants. Consultants who were very well paid and much more than any teacher, or small groups of teachers. Since he was a teacher whose was struggling to survive in the Bay Area, it drove him slightly batty.

      1. polecat

        Have you thanked a plutolibracrat today ??

        “If you hate your uninspiring common-cored curricula.. you will be compelled to KEEP teaching your brain-reaming common-cored curricula’ ……

      2. Dan

        “Corruption, corruption, corruption.” Yes, definitely that, plus a huge number of students from cultures where parents do not, cannot and will not contribute anything and require special programs. Thanks for the pencils and the property taxes.

        “The struggle to fund programs for students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), sometimes called English Language Learners (ELL), represents a major drain on school budgets.”
        ” Chicago and many other municipalities in Illinois tout their status as sanctuary districts, yet by 2018 the state will have to almost triple its current LEP outlay and spend $1.9 billion every year to educate 186,646 English language learner students.3″
        “LEP programs are growing faster than the school district’s ability to run—or fund—them effectively. In Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, D. C., 10 percent or more of all students are enrolled in LEP programs.”
        “LEP students cost taxpayers approximately $59.2 billion annually. Almost the entirety of this cost, 98.9 percent, is borne by taxpayers at the local and state level. ”

        1. Chris

          Agreed. But what strikes me as so odd in this case is based on the recently available statistics, I’m not seeing the drain in resources at the schools in question. There are virtually no disabled students. There are virtually no ELL students. The physical plant is all brand new. They don’t have a large admin staff. So where is the money going?

    2. Robert McGregor

      “I don’t know how to determine the answers to any of these (budget) questions.”

      How about a financial statement with a detailed list of expenses? Is it even available for public perusal? I would love to see it.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      Speaking as a teacher, my $0.02 …

      These lists are usually made up by elementary school teachers. The reason why they ask for a lot is because they know they are only going to get half of the materials.. a lot of the parents don’t contribute materials. So they ask for the moon from the parents and see what they can get.

      As far as consumable material budgets for high school, we get a very small amount of money to outlay for our entire department compared to the costs (facilities, our salaries, etc.). Last year we spent ~$10 per student on consumables in a science department. Textbook and tech however are a giant sucking sound on school budgets. I went with an open source textbook from Rice University for my Physics classes because of this.

      The total budgets are a $&#@show because of administrative, consultants, and health insurance. Single payer would help local budgets so much.

    4. Left in Wisconsin

      Maybe the other parents aren’t really as well off as they appear? Maybe no one besides a few people actually get the items on the list? Maybe parents don’t care and get only what their kid needs?

      I think, on the small question of school supplies, if you add these three together, you mostly get the answer. Our local schools are 2/3 middle class, 1/3 poor, with huge overlap between POC and poor. The teachers themselves DO NOT police who brings in what. Nor should they. I did administration for the neighborhood soccer club for several years and it was eye-opening – many families living paycheck to paycheck (at best) but putting up appearances, lots of distracted types who needed reminders to pay up over and over, many always contributing a little extra in order to support those who couldn’t afford it but had no idea how far their extra contributions went (not very far).

      I know that I have spaced out at times regarding my own kids’ school lists and have never been contacted with a follow up.

  28. Cal2

    On Bernie’s San Francisco experience in offering “free college.”

    Sounds highly desirable and great on a national level, although the likelihood of it passing and becoming reality and the ability to fund it will be greater if it is limited to American citizens.

    San Francisco’s example of offering free stuff to anyone who shows up from anywhere is a recipe for civic decay. e.g. free city issued identification, translation and legal services and community college for “undocumented persons” who are offered sanctuary city status–thanks Kamala– free city taxpayer funded healthcare for them, as well multiple other billions in other ‘services’ to attract America’s own psychotics, drug addicts and drifters, =17% more ‘homeless’ than the year before,
    who used 4.45 Million city provided no deposit, no return, injection drug syringes, in one year,
    These and many other not listed things, demonstrate the financial and philosophical folly of dispensing unlimited free stuff and the lower likelihood of Bernie getting nominated or elected unless he focuses his message more on what American voters, and most importantly, on the swing Trump voters whom he might attract.

    1. Ember Brody

      It’s never too long between posts before you let your vicious inner social Darwinist out. I can’t help but get the feeling that you would like to employ a final solution on the most vulnerable in society.

      1. Cal2

        And what are your constructive criticisms to avoid the situation I describe and to help elect Bernie?

        Your feelings and inter-personal speculations before which you are powerless only reflect your own insecurities.

        1. Monty

          I think you’re coming from the Field of Dreams perspective. “If you provide it they will come.”. There may be some truth to that, but they are here now.

          Should these people be left to die, or should they be helped. If you don’t think we should help them, would you advocate rounding them up and ‘doing something’ with them, or would it suit you better if they simply vanished?

          1. Cal2

            They have provided it for decades and they certainly have come.
            $300 million a year and the number’s up 17%.

            We should certainly help our own, but not assist every free-will drifter that chooses to arrive in San Francisco. “They are here now” and if the funds were limited to locals, most would be “somewhere else” tomorrow.

            Wow, lot of thought projections going on here. Allow me a trifle of ad-homenem projection of my own; like people wailing about baby seals being clubbed, there seems to be a psychosis of long distance enshrinement and virtue signaling about ‘Them The Most Vulnerable.’

            So, Monty and Ember, how many bedrooms or living room floors are you offering in your homes to those for whom your claim to speak and protect from all evil doers?

            1. Monty

              Thanks for clearing that up.

              I look forward to seeing how the Cal2 ballot initiative “Proposition 666: Death sentence for non-local indigents.” does in 2020.

              1. Cal2

                No problemo, we’ll just send them to your town.
                You can be on the greeting committee.
                Everything will be fine after they get there.

                1. Monty

                  Time’s too short to spend your days getting stressed out about stuff that’s out of your hands. Relax, make productive, kind and positive use of your time here. Hating on the homeless and immigrants won’t make you happy or fulfilled. I’d hate for you to stroke out or have a heart attack from the anguish!

                  1. Carey

                    FWIW, I don’t see Cal2 as “hating on the homeless”, or seeking a Final Solution. These phrases are thoughtstoppers, and should not be falsely
                    pasted onto someone.

                    Taking care of the citizenry first should not be controversial.


  29. Carey

    Interested in what others think of this piece- ‘What Globalism Did Was To Transfer The US Economy To China’:

    “..In the financial media the question is: Will the Trump tariffs cause a US/world recession that costs Trump his reelection? This is a very stupid question. The US has been in a recession for two or more decades as its manufacturing/industrial/engineering capability has been transferred abroad. The US recession has been very good for the Asian part of the world. Indeed, China owes its faster than expected rise as a world power to the transfer of American jobs, capital, technology, and business know-how to China simply in order that US shareholders could receive capital gains and US executives could receive bonus pay for producing them by lowering labor costs..”

      1. tegnost

        I think you could argue over whether the economy was transferred to china or transferred to an extranational global overclass…funny, googs doesn’t like extranational or overclass…hmmm

        1. Monty

          The “extranational global overclass” has got a bunch of paper claims on the I.P., but China is not obliged to play by their rules. Possession is 9/10 of the law and all that.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Our engineered dependence on the PRC guarantees the rules won’t apply there. TINA, a game the ruling class knows very well.

      2. Carey

        That’s mostly how I see it as well, and was mainly just wondering if any of the particulars presented were seen by others as inaccurate.

        1. Briny

          Read it yesterday and didn’t disagree with any of the particulars, nor any of the commenters wherever it was picked up.

  30. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    In case anyone is interested I stumbled on Mark Blythe’s latest video from July this year which for me serves as a form of revision on much he has presented before but with lots of new stuff including Brexit, his view on Corbyn’s motivations, Trump’s tariff war of which he asserts the EU is next & other issues presented in his usual entertaining way.

    I apologise if this has been linked before, am often away working in an area with very bad internet.

  31. Nakatomi Plaza

    A quote from the Christian Science Monitor article on Trump: “I don’t even know who the Democratic candidates are yet,” says Ms. Orosz. “But I’m not sure I’ll vote for Trump again.”

    Here in California my vote in meaningless, completely, totally meaningless once we get to the presidential election. And voters in one of the most important districts in the nation can’t even name a Democrat candidate? Are you kidding? As though I hadn’t already lost faith in the system…

    1. Janie

      Two women said they couldn’t name a Democratic candidate, and the author reported that many people could not. It’s hard to remember, but I don’t think this commentariat is representative of the populace, nor are our friends and acquaintances (with some regional exceptions).

  32. Summer

    A little behind on this one…read about Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL. I just hope the NFL finds six ways to Sunday to screw him in this deal if at all possible.

    Then I’ll play the tiniest violin in the world as people are “outraged.”

  33. KFritz

    Re: “We’re listening to the wrong voices…”

    A bone to pick with Mr. Sjursen on the subject of the Afghan war against Russian occupation/invasion.

    The Afghan resistance was not monolithically Islamist. A majority of Afghans are religiously stern compared to Americans or Western Europeans, but are not aligned with the morbidly religious Salafist/Wahabi brand of Islam. The most conservative/reactionary segment of the population are the Pashtuns, whose heartland is in the east of the country, bordering Pakistan. The adjacent areas of Pakistan are also Pashtun territory, loosely administered by that nation, but hardly ‘governed.’ As portrayed in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” most American aid to the “Mujahideen” was funneled through Pakistan. The notorious Pakistani combined services ISI intelligence agency is disproportionately staffed by Pashtuns. In typically authoritarian fashion, and because Pakistan and its ISI were geographically convenient, the CIA gave weapons an money to the worst of the Mujahideen. The Taliban is a ‘creation’ of the ISI and Saudi-funded Salafist clerics. It’s inaccurate to group all the Afghan insurgents indiscriminately with the dominant reactionary faction of Pashtuns.

    Had the United States been more discriminating and even-handed with its distribution of money and weaponry, it’s possible that the less reactionary Afghan militias would have emerged stronger than they did after 1989.

    And remember the ending of Charlie Wilson’s war, as Wilson pleads for some decent aid money for Afghanistan, and the oblivious reaction of the DC insiders. Plus, Gust Avrokatos/Philip Seymour Hoffman ends the movie with an description of the Islamic fundamentalist crazies being drawn in to the power vacuum after the Russians left.

    Mr. Sjursen’s description of Afghanistan in his otherwise excellent article lacks the nuance it deserves.

    1. skippy

      The denominator was who were the best fighters, zealots won the day.

      Post Russian retreat aid [promised] was a classic case of – oh look … Iraq – sorry fellas, but hay do contact our fine banks for a loan …

    2. JBird4049

      Yeah, the Graveyard of Empires gets stomped while killing whatever empire is doing the stomping.

      The little I know seems to suggest that as soon as someone(s) organizes a locally acceptable, honest, and competent government, dynasty, Kingdom or whatever, someone goes “Oh we can’t have that. Let’s kill it.” It dies and another fun round of death, destruction, and despair happens that removes all the previous generation(s) work.

      It is in Pakistan’s ISI perceived best interests that Afghanistan remains a mess with a large number of Afghanistans dependent on the ISI for support; India is always considered the big, evil bogeyman and just as the Soviets and the Americans routinely destroyed entire countries to gain the advantage over the remains, so does the ISI.

      The last three Presidential administrations have consistently messed up Afghanistan, partly due to incompetence, partly due to short-term thinking, and partly due to corruption. Very often mid and low ranking military, foreign aid and NGOs workers, and the various governments’ bureaucrats, not mention many, perhaps most Afghanistans don’t like it. However, whenever the local warlords and politicians do their corruption or such activities as kidnapping and raping boy, they are prevented from doing anything. To the point that Americans in the military have been ordered to let it happen. Not to mention the occasional “mistakes” in droning and bombing. All in the name of Freedom! Or profit?

      common form

      If any question why we died,
      Tell them, because our fathers lied.


      Then there was the original Taliban who replaced the feuding warlords who replaced the collapsed former government that had been installed by the Soviets after invading and removing the previous government who had done a coup to remove the King. So the country has been a war zone since the 1970s to today. That’s going on fifty years now.


    Intresting philanthropy spin. Reasons for giving seem to be guilt or pride. Following from Catlin’s post

    In an interview with Creative Mornings, author Anand Giridharadas described what he learned from disgraced philanthropy fundraiser Emmett Carson about how much bowing and scraping and conceptual re-framing that people have to do in order to convince a billionaire to part with a few coins:

    “[Carson] said ‘Look, I worked in social justice my whole life, I used that term my whole career.’ Then he gets this job in silicon valley. He becomes Mark Zuckerberg’s adviser, and others in that world. And he said to me ‘It was made very clear to me very quickly [that] you don’t say this word ‘social justice’ around here.’ And I said ‘Why?’ and he said ‘Well, I think [for] people out here it sounds to them like you’re taking from them.’ You know, which… is actually correct!

    “And what I learned from Emmett was something very important which is rich and powerful people in our time really do want to help but they have certain requirements for how they want to feel in their helping. They want to feel consulted, which they feel when they do things philanthropically and they don’t feel when government just takes their money and makes a collective decision about what to do. So, they like charter schools, they don’t like equally and adequately funded public schools. They like to feel useful and not blamed. Right? So they don’t like the Bernie Sanders kind of rhetoric around how Facebook’s a monopoly or around Amazon’s doing like… they don’t like that, doesn’t make them feel good. But they’re willing to help if you say ‘Wow, I mean, you built Facebook, that’s so amazing that you created a way for people to waste all this time, and maybe, maybe given that expertise you can help the kids in Newark have a better education?’ They love that. They love that feeling of like, ‘You’re useful. You’re not the problem.’

    “And what Emmett understood because he’s not a writer who can just say stuff, he’s a guy who had to figure out how to speak to them, to get them to give money away and help, is like, you have to shift the language. But shifting the language is not just shifting the language. It’s shifting the whole thing. It’s shifting the politics of it because you basically have to solve problems in ways that make them perpetrator free.”

  35. Wukchumni

    Swam 3 miles of the middle fork of the Kaweah river today with some nutty friends into punishment.

    You probably only swim about half the time, the rest you’re portaging to avoid a 6 foot waterfall or some other obstacle in your way, while walking on mostly slippery rocks and occasionally biffing it on them or having to find a way through a boulder field with 8 of them the size of small SUV’s, while having to pay attention to your every step for 6 1/2 hours, until blissfully the put out bridge appears, and you’re done, in more ways than one. It feels like every last muscle got a workout, i’m beat.

    I could barely hoist an IPA @ the local restaurant on the river that goes by the nickname:

    …a Liver Runs Through It

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