Links 8/5/19

Forget “hygge.” The most useful Danish word is “pyt” Quartzy

The Global Economy Lives in Wonderland Now Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy. Well worth a read.

Imperialism in the Anthropocene Monthly Review (AL). Thought provoking!

A Deluge of Batteries Is About to Rewire the Power Grid Bloomberg

Sites using Facebook ‘Like’ button liable for data, EU court rules Euractiv


Fiscal stimulus underpins Boris Johnson’s strategy FT. We’re all MMTers now.

Boris Johnson’s Fake Radicalism Craig Murray

A no-deal Brexit even after a no-confidence vote: how could it happen? Guardian

Poll: Majority of Scots now in favour of independence The Scotsman


From 2006 to 2019: after failures in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen, war is no longer an option for Israel Elijah J. Magnier

Pentagon Study Shows Violence Has Skyrocketed in Africa The Intercept. “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on….

The Koreas

Moon calls for ‘peace economy’ with N. Korea, slams Japan AP. When you think about it, a unified Korean peninsula would have at least one thing going for it that Japan does not currently have….

Amid growing diplomatic row, sales of Japanese cars in South Korea slump Japan Times


India scraps special status for Kashmir amid crackdown Reuters

Kashmir leaders under house arrest as unrest grows BBC

Four brief thoughts on developments in Kashmir Five Rupees

Time right to accept Trump’s Kashmir mediation offer, Pakistan PM Khan says Daily Sabah. Before the events above.


Strike grips Hong Kong as leader warns protests challenge China’s sovereignty Reuters

Hong Kong shares tumble on trade war and protest worries Nikkei Asian Review

Hong Kong v. Beijing LRB. A must-read. Grab a cup of coffee.

The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea:


Protest Innovation (1). Thread:


(IMNSHO, a continuous flow of creative tactics is a good sign of the health of any movement, although that’s not a predictor of ultimate success.)

Protest Innovation (2):


Hong Kong: what next for China’s halfway house? FT

Lessons From Moscow: How China Might Handle Hong Kong The Atlantic. Much less definitive than the headline suggests.

* * *
China Warming to Idea of Yuan as Trade War Weapon, Analysts Say Bloomberg

Mekong River at its lowest in 100 years, threatening food supply Thmey Thmey Media

Power outage hits Jakarta and Indonesia’s Java and Bali islands UPI

Great powers jostle to buy, sell and woo Thailand Asia Times

Should Asia have a regional currency? Asian Correspondent

Trump Transition

How Trump’s political appointees thwarted tougher settlements with two big banks The American Banker

El Paso Shootings

From The Department of They’re Not Wrong, Are They?


‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens The Onion

Mexico vows to take legal action against U.S. after El Paso massacre NBC

James Comey: Mr. President, Please Take a Stand Against Racism James Comey, NYT. I have the distinct impression that the liberal Democrat hive mind began buzzing about “white supremacy” just when the RussiaGate storyline began to fade, at least on the Twitter. And here we see Comey skipping nimbly from the one to the other, rather like Eliza across the ice. Well played, all.

Terrorist Attacks El Paso The American Conservative

8chan Is a Normal Part of Mass Shootings Now Slate

How many guns there are in the U.S. Axios

Puerto Rico

Man Claiming to Be Puerto Rico’s Governor Will Let Courts Decide Bloomberg. Seems legit.

Puerto Rico’s governor is gone, but protesters say more change is needed CBC


‘People are dying’: how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US Guardian

Amid Border Crackdown, White House May Shield Venezuelans From Deportation NPR.

The Dream of Open Borders Is Real—in the High Arctic The Nation (Re Silc).

Health Care

‘Fox & Friends’ Host Defends Obama, Says Former President and Biden ‘Delivered Health Care in Remarkable Fashion’ Newsweek. Unsurprisingly. ObamaCare was a Republican plan.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

How Watermelon’s Reputation Got Tangled In Racism HuffPo. “But once [formerly enslaved Africans] were free citizens, watermelons provided a way to reclaim their lives and make money. They grew and harvested them, becoming vendors and selling them on street corners.” Always follow the money.

Class Warfare

The age of wealth accumulation is over FT

Kentucky Miners Are Camped Out on Railroad Tracks, Blocking a Coal Train, Demanding Their Stolen Wages Labor Notes. @DSA stepping in to back workers in 21st Century Harlan County was brilliant optics. Oh, wait….

Artificial intelligence predicts which movies will succeed—and fail—simply from plot summaries Science. I suppose it’s only a short time before this technology is weaponized for political narratives.

Antidote du jour (via). Leveling up my dog game:

Bonus antidote. Legend:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. vlade

    “We are all MMTers”. That makes a false premise that Johnson has any compunctions on delivering on any of his promises.

      1. vlade

        Most of them tend to still avoid open, barefaced lies. Johnson is in this like Trump – they say whatever.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Waterford Whispers take on it:

      CASUALLY referred to by his government as a ‘£2.1 billion No Deal and hard border funding package’, the measures contained in Boris Johnson’s plans for Irish Reunification have been met with universal praise by those who advocate for a United Ireland.

      The reunification fund will marry all the hallmarks of Johnson’s visionary leadership together such as vague details, outright lies, condescension to citizens in Northern Ireland, even more lies and making normal people pay gravely for his incompetence.

      There has been some concern that the £2.1 billion funding could be, via some cock up or fluke, mistakenly spent on improving the lives of poor people in the UK, however, Johnson’s government has confirmed this money will only go towards making sure everyone in Britain is worse off.

    2. Chef

      A tongue in cheek phrase but parties on either side will have to juice the system save economic/societal collapse which still might happen).

  2. Louis Fyne

    Re. Comey and racism. Not defending Trump. But the media/pundits are not helping. Blame is on all sides. MSM is allowing its pundits to throw napalm onto the fire.

    as an example, the entire context of Trump’s “fine people” comment….

    ……Trump: [Inaudible.] You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

    Reporter: Do you support white nationalists, then?

    [Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

    Trump: Well, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down- Excuse me. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?

    Reporter: I do love Thomas Jefferson-

    Trump: OK, good. Well, are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So, you know what? It’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture and you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned, totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group, too…..

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yeah, it’s much worse in context. Originally, I thought it was some off hand, lazy “both sides” tweet.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Finally a charge that should land comey behind bars, and on which no jury could fail to convict–beating a metaphor to death.

      “Radioactive racist soup.”

      “A containment building made up of laws.”

      “True safety lies in control rods, pushed down into the soup to calm it, to cool it. Those control rods in America were cultural.”

      “The control rods of our culture.”

      “Only fools believe they can ride the gamma rays of hate.”

      He really should have tried harder to keep his day job. He’s a ballsy s.o.b, I’ll give him that, but an inspiring writer he ain’t.

      1. fingerbiter

        Au contraire, I think that’s better metaphor control than evinced by most spokesmodels. An evil metaphor, true, but–all according to plan?

  3. PlutoniumKun

    From 2006 to 2019: after failures in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen, war is no longer an option for Israel Elijah J. Magnier

    After Mark Blythe’s unexpectedly optimistic take on climate change in his video today, here Magnier is unexpectedly optimistic about the Middle East – and all because of ballistic missiles.

    Gaza, along with Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad, are all highly equipped by Tehran with sufficient missiles to inflict real damage on Israel and on US forces deployed in the Middle East. Israel is playing around by targeting various objectives tactically but with no real strategic purpose- only for Netanyahu to keep himself busy and train his Air Force, and to gain publicity in the media. Soon, when Syria recovers and Iraq is stronger, the Israeli promenade will have to cease. Hezbollah in Lebanon may also find a way in the near future to keep its irregular but organised army busy by firing anti-air missiles against Israeli jets and imposing new rules of engagement. It is, however, too early now to challenge Israel in the air because the “Axis of Resistance” alliance works according to priorities, and this stage of the Iran-US crisis is still only beginning. However, as the crisis develops, the new stabilising effect of the deadly and accurate generation of drones and missile threat will make open warfare unlikely.

    There is a military theory that states that geopolitical changes can be always explained by changes in military technology – when defensive weaponry (e.g. castles) dominate, you get fragmented States and feudalism, when it changes to offensive tech (e.g. rifled cannons), you get empires. It may be that cheap drones and accurate ballistic missiles have changed the calculation fundamentally in the Middle East, making it far more difficult and expensive for any one power to challenge a determined group in situ.

    These things always tend to take time to shake out, but perhaps once the military establishments around the region and in the US realise this, eventually it will sink in with the politicians. Maybe Trump himself senses it, hence his reluctance to go that final step against Iran. It just may be that Assad and Hizbollahs victory over Isis could be a turning point to lead to a more stable balance in the region, one in which each group sorts out their problems with their neighbours, without trying to drag in outside forces, whether the US or anyone else. We can but hope.

    1. David

      it illustrates the point that military capability is always a stone-scissors-paper business, where no system or force structure is inherently dominant: it depends what you are trying to do, and what resources the enemy has to stop you. To the extent that Israel wants to control or at last dominate something like its biblical frontiers, it was historically able to do this with advanced, complex weapon systems, in the knowledge that its own territory was not threatened. So long as it was fighting state actors who played by the same rules, it could win. But conventional forces trying to take and hold ground are notoriously vulnerable to guerrilla-style attacks with simple but effective weaponry. You can teach someone to lay mines much more quickly than you can teach them to operate a tank, and the investment is radically smaller. What Hisbollah knows, like all guerrilla forces, is that the important thing is less winning, than not losing. They can extract a price that Israel cannot pay, especially through a simple but robust capability to attack enemy territory, which is why the situation is militarily (if not necessarily politically) stable.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hezbollah are more than just a guerrilla force. They are now a professional organization and have been for awhile. There was an incident during the 2006 invasion when an Israeli special forces troop was going through a village at nighttime. The lead trooper turned a corner and was shocked to encounter a trooper dressed in the same specialized gear that he was but was from Hezbollah. The later reacted first with a grenade which the Israeli knocked back and both troops disengaged. And the Hezbollah force that kicked the Israeli’s a*** in the invasion was actually the local B Team rather than the elite team further north.
        The problem for Israel is that invasion is no longer an option as the casualty rate would be too high which is anathema to the Israeli public. Casually killing people with missiles is also out of the question as Hezbollah can launch their own missiles right back at them and cause mass panic in most of Israel. And gratuitous killing of Hezbollah forces is also problematic. When Israel murdered an Hezbollah officer, Hezbollah attacked an Israeli convoy and killed a coupla Israeli soldier. So right now there is an armed truce with neither side having an edge but Hezbollah accumulating massive amounts of combat gear from Syria but more importantly operational combat experience as well.

        1. David

          Hisbollah is most importantly a political movement, the recognized representatives of the Shiite community, who have historically had the worst deal in Lebanon. They have steadily overhauled their main rivals (Amal) through the provision of social services the state can’t manage. (You can see this on the ground in the suburbs of Beirut, though I wouldn’t recommend going there alone). They also have a lot of credibility with other confessional groups because of their military exploits (even the Christians refer to them as ‘the Resistance.´ ) Their military is professional in the technical sense, and well-trained by the Quds Force of the IRGC. But the point is that they understand (partly through their links with Iran) that they will never defeat Israel with regular tactics, and so have developed sophisticated guerilla tactics, which do work.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Interesting. There’s also a strong correlation between the development of democracy and military techniques that empower common foot soldiers – Switzerland is the ultimate example. Strategic factors like the difficulty of crossing the Rhine River, which set the boundary between the Netherlands (another example of military democracy) and Belgium, which remained under the control of Spain, also have had a big impact on history; natural moats like the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean are good examples.

      However, the present dependence on sophisticated missiles probably does not promote democracy, even if it constrains Israel.

    3. Chef

      “Israel is playing around by targeting various objectives tactically but with no real strategic purpose- only for Netanyahu to keep himself busy and train his Air Force, and to gain publicity in the media.”

      Expanding settlements and taking Golan has no strategic purpose? Silly me for thinking so.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Fiscal stimulus underpins Boris Johnson’s strategy FT. We’re all MMTers now

    A question out there for those more economically literate than I:

    In Mark Blythes presentation posted earlier today he says there is no possibility, zero of any inflation for decades due to the loss of labour power. Inflation was entirely a result of labour power, not monetary looseness (to some degree he contradicts this earlier in his explanation for post WWI east European hyperinflation, but let this go for a moment). My understanding of hyper inflation is that it generally results when capital outflows meet declining industrial/productivity capacity along with loose fiscal policy (e.g. Weimar Germany, post independence Zimbabwe, etc).

    In Brexit, if we get a combination of a declining industrial/service base as it exits the UK for EU countries, along with a drop in sterling, along with monetary stimulus (to protect banks hit by private loan defaults) along with loose fiscal policy to shore up the economy is this not a combination ripe for out of control inflation?

    1. John Zelnicker

      August 5, 2019 at 7:55 am

      The Weimar hyper-inflation was caused by the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles that Germany pay reparations for WWI in gold or dollars and sterling. This required that Germany be able to produce goods for export to earn the necessary foreign currency or gold. They started out okay, but then France took over the Ruhr Valley which was Germany’s industrial heartland. Without the ability to produce goods for export, Germany had no way to earn the foreign exchange they needed. Foreign investors and producers didn’t want Deutsche Marks, so the exchange rate collapsed. In order to pay the reparations, Germany printed more bank notes with which to buy the hard currency they needed. Thus a feedback loop was started that caused the price of a loaf of bread to reach 200 Billion DM in 1922.

      1. Adam Eran

        Yep. Note the the requirement is that there be a shortage of goods (and a balance of payments problem) before the printing begins, and before the hyperinflation takes hold. Sure, there’s lots of printing, but that’s not what kicks it off.

        In contrast, the U.S. central bank (the Fed) extended $16 – $29 trillion in credit to the financial sector in about 8 months in 2007-8… and no surge of inflation appears on any measure of that … not CPI (public), not MIT’s billion-price index (semi-public), not Shadowstats (private).

        And just to complete the story, the Rhodesian farmers left Zimbabwe, and a country previously able to feed itself had to import food. Shortage of goods + balance of payments problem = hyperinflation.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Oh no, there was “no surge of inflation”. Unless that is you need to eat something, sleep somewhere, go to the doctor, pay a utility bill, pay for medicine, buy a share or two, or get an education…

          Show me someone who would not *gladly* pay 2007 prices for all of the above, and I will show you *an idiot*.

          1. Chef

            Education, healthcare, housing and real food costs more but electronics, consumer goods, processed ‘food’ and hedonic adjustments balance it out.

            Trust ’em, they’re economists and even though their models lack any predictive value, they’re doing god’s work.

        2. ewmayer

          “In contrast, the U.S. central bank (the Fed) extended $16 – $29 trillion in credit to the financial sector in about 8 months in 2007-8… and no surge of inflation appears on any measure of that…”

          As always, we need to differentiate the 2 main types of inflation the Fed targets – when the Fed mentions “concerns about inflation running too hot” they invariably are referring to *wage* inflation, the suppression and negativization of which is what crushing labor power is all about. The post-GFC bailouts and ZIRP regimes are all about *asset-price* inflation, which the Fed loves because of the bubbly markets, share-buyback-fueled stock price rallies and such which it promotes. That inflation shows up amongst the deplorables mainly in form of real estate prices, but of course the government has gerrymandered its own metrics of same (“owners equivalent rent” replacing the logical actual-prices-paid for same-property sales-pairs, the latter metric being used by e.g. Case-Shiller) to obscure the hit to hoi polloi.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    China Warming to Idea of Yuan as Trade War Weapon, Analysts Say Bloomberg

    One historic reason Beijing hates the idea of a weakening currency is that it knows it could lose control as rich Chinese try to get their capital out of the country. It may be that they are confident that the tightening of controls over the past few years will prevent this. However, anecdotally, I’ve heard it whispered by Chinese friends that moderately well off Chinese (i.e. not the super rich, just regular Chinese who’ve done pretty well the out of the economy and have a few assets), are finding more and more sneaky ways to get cash out. Certainly the local Louis Vitton in my city is as full of Chinese as ever (I regularly take a stroll through it as one of my little informal surveys of the world economy).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is Russia a popular destination, for the non super rich, but only moderately well off in China?

      For the future of the coming Asian Heartland Alliance, Moscow’s popularity or lack of it would say a lot.

    2. Some Guy in Beijing

      Interestingly, I heard recently that VIPKids is actually a scheme to move money overseas. (I’m not an EFL teacher any longer and never worked for VIPKids, but I’m still in BJ)

    1. David

      I don’t think this has much to do with AFRICOM, although that organisation isn’t helping the situation very much either.
      The increase in violence is largely due to the collapse of Libya in 2012 and the flood of weapons and trained soldiers into the Sahel. It’s also partly a consequence of Al Qaeda’s change of tactics towards cultivating regional bases, and the influence of those Islamic State guys. Thinking you are the whole of the problem can be as arrogant as thinking you are the whole of the solution. Oh and figures for jihadist groups are useless: such groups form, fission and fuse at a bewildering rate, as well as changing their names all the time.

      1. paul

        This al queda organisation you refer to,
        does it exist ,
        how is it funded and ……
        where do they do their central planning?

          1. paul

            That is not really an analysis, its what j burke thinks might be happening about a neglected brand.
            If there is one sentence of solid information in that blather good recent analysis , rather than wistful speculation,please point it out.

            Obviously it exists in jason’s mind,the fact that he needs to decorate tomorrow’s fish wrapper hardly answers my second two points

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Ah, Libya, Obama and HRC’s great gift to Africa. It is indeed spreading its toxicity across much of North Africa.

        But you are right of course to say that you can’t attribute every problem in somewhere as complex as Africa to just one cause, its a growing mess, which will get worse as climate change really takes hold of sub-saharan Africa (soon to be not so sub).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Bear with me, Africa is very large, and I’ve often wondered if the single major dilemma is “Africa” when it should be treated as a vast continent both my outsiders and locals. I shouldn’t be speak for locals, but I’ve always found pan-African conferences to be bizarre. In the end, they can’t even keep the West out.

          Call it a holdover of European views from the 19th through 21st centuries, but we don’t do this with Asia or even the non-NAFTA Americas.

          1. David

            Talk to any educated African and after a few minutes they’ll say impatiently something like ´Africa is the most diverse continent in the world.´ This is certainly true, but it’s disguised to some extent by the fact that large parts of Africa suffer from the same kind of problems, leading lazy analysts to assume they are all the same. What makes it even worse is the artificial distinction between the Arabic speaking states of the former Ottoman Empire in the Sahara and the Sahel, and those to the south. The idea that Mauritania is closer culturally to Yemen than to Tunisia has always seemed bizarre to me.

            1. paul

              Have a word with mr junckers (or whoever is running the eu parliament) ,greece,luxembourg and finland are all pretty much the same

      3. willf

        I don’t think this has much to do with AFRICOM […] The increase in violence is largely due to the collapse of Libya in 2012 and the flood of weapons and trained soldiers into the Sahel.

        Such passive language. Libya simply “collapsed” on its own, did it?

        March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, spearheaded by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, authorizing military intervention in Libya. […] Two days after the UN authorization, the United States and other NATO countries established a no-fly zone throughout Libya and started bombing Qaddafi’s forces. Seven months later, in October 2011, after an extended military campaign with sustained Western support, rebel forces conquered the country and shot Qaddafi dead. – Foreign Affairs

        That was in 2011.

        As for AFRICOM, IIRC after Qaddafi’s death, the country was partitioned. So AFRICOM got a toehold in its very first African country. Before Qaddafi’s overthrow not one African country would allow AFRICOM in. Which is why it was headquartered in Germany.

        Better propagandists, please.

        1. David

          Well, you can quibble if you like but the point is that the overthrow of Gaddafi, which was not primarily a US initiative, produced a situation which could theoretically have led to a new government with control of the country. This didn’t happen (and may never have been possible) but it was the Libyans who turned their country into a suburb of hell. There’s enough anti-western paranoia in the Arab world without adding to it.

          1. Darthbobber

            More than a quibble. There was no rational reason to expect a better outcome. And if you think the French and Italians would really have proceeded on their own over us opposition, you are mistaken.

            And without our decision to provide the jihadis with air support, that faction lacked the capacity to wreck their country.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Particularly infuriating was how NATO insisted on destroying the massive irrigation works called The Great Manmade River…presumably so “the terrorists” could not get anything to drink? Or perhaps: to make sure the country was a complete basket case afterwards.

                The Empire of Chaos indeed.

            1. Foy

              “The Libyans turned their country into a suburb of hell”?

              Good reply OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL. It’s important to keep pointing these things out and not let them sail by when such obvious falsities are proffered.

          2. Carey

            Can you say a little more about this “anti-western paranoia in the Arab world..”, and what its sources might conceivably be?

          3. Procopius

            … the overthrow of Gaddafi, which was not primarily a US initiative, …

            Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. Although the attack is usually attributed to France, I would not be surprised if, twenty-five or fifty years from now, diplomatic correspondence is released which reveals it was a US initiative and attributed to France for cover purposes. Certainly Hillary seemed unusually active in its support.

    2. Procopius

      I remember reading that the first Thai Communist Party insurgent attack took place three months after the CIA arranged military anti-communist aid for Field Marshal Sarit. Follow the money.

  6. Lee

    The Global Economy Lives in Wonderland Now Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy. Well worth a read

    I know Lambert and Yves don’t take assignments, but I’d love to know what they think about the article.

    Blackrock CEO wants the government to invest in equities. Trump and AOC agree with loose, low rate monetary policy. Is this some sort of proto-MMT phenomenon with the difference between left and right in this instance being summed up in the final paragraph?

    What the latest round of desperate central bank action suggests is that we have reached the limit of what monetary policy can be expected to do. The question now is whether governments are willing to match the unconventional measures being taken by the central banks. To the extent that fiscal policy is deadlocked (as in Europe) or captured by a self-serving elite whose only priorities are defense spending and tax cuts for the wealthy (as in the United States), the outlook is depressing. But it’s at least possible to imagine a world in which the public directed the cheap funding that is so readily available toward investments in education and research, global development, and a renewable energy transition that would handsomely pay for themselves.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I have some qualms with that article, one of which is this quote:

      Though the U.S. economy is apparently at or close to full employment, wages have barely budged above the level that would be justified by productivity increases and inflation alone. There is little or no inflationary pressure. The so-called Phillips curve that once mapped the inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation is not serving as a useful guide to policy.

      If increases in income distribution does not get to 99% of the people, then there is no increase in demand. So there really is no pressure on wages, and the percentage of income getting to the majority remains stagnant.

      Without demand there is no wage increase.

    2. John k

      What you’re asking for is a return to the full employment mantra that favored labor, from around 1950 to 1975, when 4x oil combined to generate high albeit temporary inflation, leading to loss of faith in gov and the introduction of finance and neolib policies that favor capital.
      IMO we will see a change of state, the world must cut co2 emissions 50% and this can only occur if the people take back political power, bringing back big gov… removing fossil subsidies and imposing 100%tax over five years while boosting green subsidies, building south north transmission lines, sounds draconian, but remember the price of oil went up 4x in the 70’s. The trick is to hire more workers for the new stuff than will be sacked from fossil…
      Coal has to go first, luckily green and gas has already displaced a chunk of coal, so coal to zero in a decade is doable and will make a decent dent in emissions.
      Florida can be flipped, they don’t produce fossil and even reps are worrying about climate and rising seas.
      And all the southern states can produce solar to export to the north.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Hong Kong v. Beijing LRB. A must-read. Grab a cup of coffee.

    Indeed, a very good article, although no doubt the author has his own agenda.

    This last wish is remote from the reality on the ground. It also speaks to Beijing’s perception that a ‘colonial’ mindset has impeded its efforts to make Hong King a vehicle for its own interests. The crucial period in this respect, I think, was the first thirty years of the PRC, when it declined to take Hong Kong back. Hong Kong’s sense of itself began to flourish in the 1970s. Some in Hong Kong sincerely wanted to adopt a mainland view, or even a mainland identity, but identification with the mainland could never be truly be rooted in experience. The CCP’s approach means that people in Hong Kong either come to see themselves as second-rate citizens of the PRC, no matter how much richer they may be than many on the mainland, or feel ever more alienated, their sense of themselves as citizens of Hong Kong growing ever stronger.

    I think the final line in this is crucial, and from my limited experience of HK (and to an extent Taiwan too) is true – whatever the past history of HK and Taiwan, a generation has grown up in the past few decades who do not consider themselves in any way to be Chinese – they are Hong Kong-ers and Taiwanese – and they resent anyone telling them anything different, especially if that person is from Beijing. Beijing is misreading both nations very badly if they think the issue is just one of different ‘systems’.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Still, I cannot see Beijing saying to Hong Kong that they can go their own way and everything is cool. Otherwise other major cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen will also want the same deal. Can you imagine what would happen if say Los Angeles made the same demands on Washington that some of the protesters are making in Hong Kong? Now that would go down like a lead balloon that and would be put down ruthlessly by the DHS. According to a map that I have seen, Hong Kong is part of China again so perhaps it might be smarter for the people of Hong Kong to try and spread their influence throughout China itself. At the moment though they are not making many friends and there is no cavalry that will race over the horizon to their rescue.

      1. Carolinian

        Sounds like you have summed up the bottom line. Given Hong Kong’s origin in British imperialism it’s not that outlandish that the Chinese government should take a different view of “justice” than those very well heeled 7 million in HK. Given that they are part of China now how is this supposed to end?

        1. Duck1

          Having taken part in a lot of pointless demonstrations in the early 70’s, i.e. that proclaimed objectives beyond end the draft and war having accomplished those goals, I found that the ability of the system to smother dissent can last longer than the enthusiasm to vigorously dissent.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Beijing has been busy with separatists for a while now.

          Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mabye others.

          1. Chef

            I’d categorize (at least )Tibet and Xinjiang not as separatists but as ethnic freedom fighters as these people have 1000s of years of history before falling under Chinese occupation.

          2. Oregoncharles

            I agree with Chef: they’ve been demanding trouble by conquest. Taiwan has its own history, too. Americans aren’t in a good position to make this point, of course, But that list looks like trouble for the foreseeable future.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hong Kong was different from other Chinese cities in the past, before the British handover.

        It’s a special (and different) situation now, acknowledged and agreed upon by all sides since then, and that agreement will last for a certain of years.

        In this sense, it is not striclty comparable to scenarios involving US cities here.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Rather than say Los Angeles making a demand, a better example I think would be Puerto Rico or Hawaii. HK and the Cantonese speaking areas have always been quite distinct from China properly. Cantonese is as close to Mandarin as Vietnamese – i.e., its not at all.

        But you are right that Beijing will not in the long term tolerate this. There is no possibility of them allowing the type of democracy the demonstrators seem to want within the system. The best they can hope for is a sort of loosely tolerated hybrid system. The one hope for the HKers is that the Chinese realise the benefits of having a somewhat different system within China. As one example – and again, Mark Blyth refers to this – one of the key weaknesses of China is its lack of a real rule of law around business and property – such systems take centuries to develop properly. HK does have this and preserving it could help China in the long run.

        The problem for China is that they assumed that their model was so self evidently superior that the Taiwanese and HKers would happily be part of it. But in reality both HK and Taiwan are growing more apart and distinct as time goes on.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Cantonese vs. Marndarin.

          Or Minan vs. Mandarin, which explains why ‘cha’ is ‘chai’ to Russians (in Mandarin, ‘cha’), and ‘tea’ to Americans (in Minnan, ‘de.’)

          1. PlutoniumKun

            When I grew up in Dublin, a cup of tea was called by all the old folks a ‘cup of cha’.

        2. Oh

          A Chinese aquaintance told me that the people of HK have been to learn Mandarin since the ctime China took over. The older generation of course did not learn Mandarin. I know a Chinese couple – the wife is from the mainland (not from Guandong province) and speaks only mandarin and the husband is from HK. I wonder if they argue with each other in their own language :)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            From Cantonese, Wikipedia:

            Cantonese is a variety of Chinese originating from the city of Guangzhou (also known as Canton) and its surrounding area in Southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety of the Yue Chinese dialect group, which has about 68 million native speakers.[3] While the term Cantonese specifically refers to the prestige variety, it is often used to refer to the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese.

            Communcation could be difficult even among Yue-Chinese speakers.

        3. Oregoncharles

          ” lack of a real rule of law around business and property – such systems take centuries to develop properly” – especially if you don’t really want them to. It isn’t just the “communists”; China’s history is deeply imperial. It will be very difficult for them to develop such a rule of law, because it would interfere with centralized authority – now even more centralized.

          So the clash with HK may be even more deepseated, to Hong Kong’s disadvantage, than we might suppose.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if the feeling of considering themselves as second-rate citizens involves the tradtional northerners-southerners divide (in China, but it seems to occur in many other countries as well: America, Belgium…Flemish/Walllons, Germany…High/Low Germans, Japan…Kanto/Kansai {east/west, but gerographically, also close to south/north}, etc.)

      From Huineng, Wikipedia (He was the Sixth Patriach of Zen, the first being Bodhidharma, the Indian prince from Madras, with blue or azure eyes, it was said/written and painted as such, who mediated in a cave near the famous Shanlin Temple for 20 years, apocryphal, some have said):

      Huineng came from Guangdong and was physically distinctive from the northern people from China, the Fifth Patriarch Hongren questioned his origin as a “barbarian from the south”, and doubted his ability to attain enlightenment.[3]

      Huineng lived from 638 to 713 AD, during the time of Tang Dynasty, which came after the troubled centuries of invasions of nomads from Mongolia, and the mass migrations of aristocrat clans to the south (mostly lower Yangtze delta and Fujian province, and some areas of Guangdong).

      Yet, southerns were still deemed barbarians at that time.

      In one translation (at least, as far as I can recall), the Chinese word used was ‘ape’ or ‘monkey’ (recalling the experiment in the news last week), and not just ‘barbarian.’

      As well, for something more modern, the Xinhai revolutionaries were dominated by southerners, especially those from Guangdong and Fujian, where many overseas Chinese at that time were originally from. So, for example, Sun Yatsen was from Guangdong, and he used Hong Kong (and Triad connections) as a base.

      Many early leaders of KMT were from the south, including many from Zhejiang.

      When, a national spoken language was to be adopted, a committe of scholars went through each word, one by one, to select a common pronouciation. Here, to keep the story short, some words retain their southern sounds. Today, in Taiwan, what is called Guoyu (established around the time KMT ruled) is slightly different from Putonghua (established after the CCP came to power, and is, I understand, based largely on the pronounciations of the people of a village near the former Qing dynasty Imperial Summer Resort, north of Beijing).

      That is just one legacy example of the North-South divide.

    3. anon in so cal

      My own experience of HK is extremely limited. But in the past I’ve anecdotally witnessed HK-ers openly expressing contempt toward mainlanders in the airport. Despite or because of HK’s increasing economic eclipse, HK-ers perhaps consider themselves culturally superior to mainlanders.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    The Global Economy Lives in Wonderland Now Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy. Well worth a read.

    Its a good thing its a holiday here, I’ve plenty of time to enjoy the really rich harvest of links and articles today. This one is very good, and links in very well with Mark Blyth’s video below:

    What the latest round of desperate central bank action suggests is that we have reached the limit of what monetary policy can be expected to do. The question now is whether governments are willing to match the unconventional measures being taken by the central banks. To the extent that fiscal policy is deadlocked (as in Europe) or captured by a self-serving elite whose only priorities are defense spending and tax cuts for the wealthy (as in the United States), the outlook is depressing. But it’s at least possible to imagine a world in which the public directed the cheap funding that is so readily available toward investments in education and research, global development, and a renewable energy transition that would handsomely pay for themselves.

    Blyth was unusually optimistic in that he sees climate change as giving us an ‘out’ of the current problem. It seems that Tooze does too – just maybe a weird sort of alliance between MMTers, left/green radicals and a significant element of the capitalist right now realises that a Green New Deal of sorts, financed through monetary means is the only way of saving us – it may well be that it saves capitalism too (just as Keynsianism in the 30’s saved capitalism just as it rescued the poor). Maybe thats a (short term) price worth paying, I don’t really know.

    1. Joe Well

      I have done some very low-level volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign here in the US. That is the only realistic option to achieve the above goals right now in this country and perhaps the world.

      It is making me hopeless.

      A summary of reactions to the Bernie Sanders campaign I have seen both in person and online from first-hand interactions and would not believe if I had not witnessed them myself:

      1. From long-time Dem voters: shame on him for rocking the boat, “blue no matter who” (me: but it’s still the primaries!!)
      2. From highly educated upper-middle-class but probably downwardly mobile people who are into politics: woman of color (me: how does Joe Biden qualify as a woman of color? because that is who you are likely giving the nomination to by not rallying behind the first Jewish president)
      3. Not very politically engaged people: politics is dirty and I don’t want to get involved/they stole it from Bernie the last time and they’ll do it again/I stay out of politics/I can’t be bothered/I don’t have time/I heard something bad about socialism.
      4. From 60yo+ affluent people generally (and they absolutely dominate politics and society here in Greater Boston and the Democratic party): the system is mostly working and only needs minor tweaks.
      5. And of course, the people who truly love Bernie, for all sorts of reasons. It’s a grab bag. Surprisingly few say that the rich have taken over the world and we need to fight back.

      I would guess that maybe 10% of the country is a hard Bernie supporter when he is literally promising to give 99% of people a ton more money and 100% of people a chance at saving the earth. I am at a loss.

      1. neighbor7

        “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

        (Friedrich Schiller, via Isaac Asimov)

      2. Kurtismayfield

        From 60yo+ affluent people generally (and they absolutely dominate politics and society here in Greater Boston and the Democratic party): the system is mostly working and only needs minor tweaks.

        Of course it is working for them. Ask one how they are hiding ng their assets so that when they are 75 and are in need of long term care the government pays for it. For a friend….

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      Myself, I’ve always gotten along relatively well with the Russel Kirk style ‘conservatives’…being a decidedly rural hippie guy…localism, a sense of Place, etc.
      my worry, for at least 4 years, now, has been that the gop mainstream…or a significant faction thereof…influenced by trump showing them a way out of their demographic death spiral…would begin to pick up many of the new deal things that the dems have left by the wayside.
      note that le pen in france has a lot of such things on her platform, while lately trying to play down the racism, etc.same with many of the other righty boogymen across the world.
      same thing has been in the air since trump rode the elevator(except for the playing down the racism, of course). now i see that trump/gop is set to roll out a healthcare plan next month(will it be a ryanesque one page, double spaced nothingburger?lol)…and ruminations in the bushes about antitrust and other fdr-ish things too numerous to list.
      out here in the hinterlands, i find a more willing audience in former tea partiers than in the local demparty for new new deal talk.
      (the local dems are almost to a person rich(locally) and comfortable and elitist(also locally) and do a lot of performative box checking, but are afraid of engaging with the poor and the brown.)
      i reckon what will kill such a gop shift will be the habits of racial animus, as well as the hyperpartisan inertia of the mcconnels of the world…they just can’t let it go.
      where i live, at least, the lumpenproles of the gop/tea are NOT the sheetwearing, spittleflecked morons one sees on msdnc.
      they work next to, are married or otherwise related to, go to church with and are neighbors to…brown and black and gay and religions other than their own and agnostic(atheism is still anathema out here).
      like the local dems, the local gop true believers are old, wealthy and set in their ways….they are the ones who cling to the racist tropes, tax cuts uberalles and corpsefriendly monetary and trade policy.
      locally, both party’s true believers are becoming closer to each other…and further away from the majority.
      as for whether such an alliance is worth the trouble?
      I’d tentatively say Yes…so long as the ugly parts of the right can be kept in check(which is prolly easier said than done, given the Machine’s interest in fomenting just such divisions—and indeed, i think that most of the ugly that we see is due to such machinations)

    3. vlade

      Germany is a prime example of the folly out there.

      Germany can borrow on negative rates ACROSS its issuance curve. There is no German Bund which would not “make money” for Germany.

      Yet, the German state refuses to issue anything saying “this is not the right time”.

      FFS, what is then the right time to issue bonds? Especially when *gasp* the German infra is incredibly creaky, and needs some massive investment (yes, the US and the UK aren’t the only states who were unwilling to invest into infrastructure).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Sometimes its hard not to see the German austerity obsession as almost a psychological phenomenon rather than an economic one. As a very occasional visitor there, its striking how degraded much of their infrastructure has become – they are very much free riding on post war investments, and this cannot go on forever. Perhaps the Berlin airport fiasco has undermined their confidence in their construction industry.

        1. sporble

          I’ve been living here in Berlin for 23 years.

          My take: when it comes to debt, Germans have some kind of damaged collective psyche, probably at least partially a result of the hyperinflation from the Weimar Republic. Politicians here (esp. from Merkel’s CDU party) are obsessed with “das schwarze Null” (literally, “the black zero”: the English equivalent would be “being in the black” or “no longer being in the red”). And neoliberalism has only made things worse.

          Many Germans’ attitudes towards southern Europeans (“lazy debtors!”) seem to make (new) German debt unattractive. It’s a very conservative society when it comes to finance – and still very much a cash-based society (this last bit I actually find quite good, fwiw).

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The interesting part to me is that the Germans, who view paying off debt as a moral imperative, continue to accept the fiction of the Euro.

            The Target 2 debt owed by Italy to Germany now exceeds 1 trillion Euros. This is money That.Will.Never.Be.Paid.Back.

            Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

            I’m just wondering when the Emperor’s New Clothes moment finally arrives. “We pretend to work, and they pretend to have a currency to pay us with”.

            And now when you loan your “money” to Germany for 30 years you receive *no* interest (no payment whatsoever for time preference) and you do *not* receive your principal back.

            Reluctantly, disgustedly long gold and Bitcoin. For all of the abundantly obvious reasons.

            1. Chef

              with you on the PMs and crypto, HAL.

              As for the target 2 debt, that might be something Germany’s going to have to settle for- they’ve been using a debased currency (the Euro weaker than a DM would be) to accelerate their export economy. One might even call it an even trade (personally, I think Germany still got over).

        2. Oregoncharles

          Back in about the 70s, my father noted that Europe’s big advantage was, precisely, that much of their industry had been smashed in the war – and quite recently rebuilt; whereas the US’s was mostly prewar and getting creaky. Now it’s been long enough that Europe’s (and Germany’s, in particular) industry and infrastructure is getting old, and the US’s either has been shipped overseas or simply fell apart and had to be replaced.

          A big rebuilding campaign would give the US the same advantage that Europe had 50 years ago. Will that happen? It seems so unlikely, and it may be too late.

    1. Oh

      This discussion was very uninformative with each of the interviews blaming the voters and not getting to the crux of the problem. They kep going in circles and refused to admit thaat capitalism is the major cause of the problem. It appears to me that they’re part of the problem.

      Watching this was a waste of my time.

  9. Dan

    Report from Guatamala,

    “The current run of hot, dry years follows a decade or so of unusually prolonged rains and flooding due to the other phase of the cycle known as La Niña, caused by colder Pacific waters.”

    “Forests mitigate climate change, but Guatemala has lost half its woodlands
    [surplus populations have choppd down trees] in the past 40 years – and deforestation rates are rising, in turn causing floods, landslides and erosion of farmland…
    Gutiérrez lives in a half-finished palm-roofed adobe house with his wife Miriam Ávalos, 22, and their five children aged between seven months and nine years….Ávalos was 13 when she had her first child.”

    So, we Americans are supposed to have fewer, or no children to help save the earth, then tax carbon, thus enriching Wall Street elites and raising the cost of everything that uses energy, while merely transferring the use of the energy to the wealthy that can pay, and best of all, with the help of The Democratic Socialists, we’re supposed to just throw open the borders and allow this demographic caused environmental destruction and personal behavior into the U.S. from all over the Third World?

    No thanks.

    1. Eclair

      Dan, respectfully, you should really check the data.

      The US first interfered in Guatemala in the mid-fifties, with a CIA-backed coup that deposed its democratically elected leader, thus making the benighted country safe for US corporate agricultural interests: sugar, coffee, bananas, forestry. We Americans are literally ‘eating’ Guatemala.

      An estimated 40% of Guatemalans are indigenous Mayans. They were here before the Europeans took over the two continents.

      Infant mortality rates in Guatemala hover around 75 per 1000. That’s in contrast to about 6 deaths per 1000 in the US. And we are the bad boys of the industrialized world; Japan comes in at 2 per 1000. In the real world, this means you have a lot of babies, because you know that you’re going to watch many of them die before they become teens.

      Guatemalan population has been declining since the 1960’s (maybe due to the violence unleashed by that coup in the mid-fifties??)

      As for energy use per capita? 6797 kilograms of oil per capita in the US. 830 kilograms of oil per capita in Guatemala. Yes, we in the US consume eight times as much energy as the Guatemalans. And, excrete a correspondingly large amount of carbon and methane.

      I know that commenters on NC are always aware of their racist biases (and we all have them) and work not to have them color their world views.

      1. Dan

        The article is headlined:
        ‘People are dying’: how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US”

        Respectfully, The crisis there is not climate, it’s overpopulation and economic exploitation, by their own and our government, a different subject.

        Deforestation is happening for firewood and overpopulation caused splitting of farms into smaller and smaller parcels and additional clearings for additional children. The latifundia clearing for export crops happened decades ago.

        Guatemalan urban population has been exported to the U.S., that’s why it’s “shrinking.” In the countryside, it’s growing.

        So, are you really advocating for allowing Guatemalans to come here and consumer 6797 kilograms of oil per capita, versus staying home and using 830? Not very environmental of you.

        In addition, you want them to bring their babies here to survive to adulthood, to have commensurately large families starting at 16 or so, competing with our poor Americans in an underfunded and overworked health care setting?

        Did you give up having children for the environment?

        The best solution for Central America would be massive birth control and education programs funded by the U.S., it would be cost effective, versus jailing their criminals here, as well as enabling their self sufficiency in food and industry. We should overthrow their government and establish a one that is more friendly to their own people so that they don’t have to leave.
        “Coups for humanity, instead of export crops.”

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “We should overthrow their government and establish a one that is more friendly to their own people so that they don’t have to leave.”

          maybe it would be more cost effective to simply allow them to elect their own governments, and stop interfering in their business.

          they can handle it…they’ve proven this repeatedly over the 20th century…and we jumped up and stopped it, and installed yet another deathcult dictatorship.(this applies to most of the “third world”, not just guatemala)

          “white man’s burden” is so yesterday.
          we’re not the shining city on the hill…nor are we all that good a model for the “$hithole” countries to emulate.
          we should get over ourselves, FFS.

        2. Monty

          So, are you really advocating for allowing Guatemalans to come here and consumer 6797 kilograms of oil per capita, versus staying home and using 830? Not very environmental of you.

          I read a similar argument somewhere else recently…

          “So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.’

        3. Oregoncharles

          Do I detect an element of snark?

          “The best solution for Central America would be massive birth control and education programs funded by the U.S.” – after first somehow breaking the power of the Catholic Church.

          Granted, experience in the US and Europe has shown that when birth control and education are available to women, the Church may not matter much. But it may be quite a struggle to make those things available while the Church rules.

          Proper land reform, breaking up the latifundias, might help a lot to prevent all that deforestation, too, but now we’re really dreaming. Remarkably, that was boilerplate when I went to college in the 60’s. How was that knowledge suppressed?

        4. John A

          “We should overthrow their government and establish a one that is more friendly to their own people so that they don’t have to leave.”

          Well, most of the problems can be dated back to the US overthrowing the government that was more friendly to their own people. Ditto Chile, ditto numerous other Latin American countries and elsewhere, not to mention the 60 year attempts to overthrow the Cuban government and 20 years in Venezuela.
          Don’t you see the irony in what you suggest?

          1. Dan

            I’m not endorsing previous U.S. foreign policy mistakes. That wasn’t my foreign policy, except for cheap bananas and coffee. The demographic effects of that are however a problem in my community. Things can change you know.

            If we can invade Afghanistan “for the girls”, then we could change our foreign policy in this hemisphere to do the same thing.

            We could make it so attractive to stay in Central America that no one would want to leave. At the same time, it should be nearly impossible for a Central American to stay in the U.S. without benefit of assimilation and citizenship.

      2. anon in so cal

        The data:

        The infant mortality rate for Guatemala is 27 per 1000.

        “According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects[5] the total population estimate was 16,582,469 in 2016. The proportion of the population below the age of 15 in 2010 was 41.5%,”

        Guatemala’s population has increased from 9 million in 1990 to 17.5 million in 2019.

        Its projected population is 21.5 million by 2030.

          1. barrisj

            BTW, several members if the current Honduran govt. are under investigation by US for facilitating narco-smuggling through their country. Juan Orlando Hernandez’ brother Tony already is being prosecuted for laundering narco money, amongst other charged. Orlando Hernandez is also under heavy scrutiny by US authorities, as the US-Honduran “war-on-drugs” program is in a pay-to-play mode, as major traffickers are allegedly bribing top Honduran officials to move product. US-sponsored golpe – thanks, Obama – delivered the bent Hernandez family to government, and here’s the consequences.


        1. Eclair

          Well, I must hang my head in shame. Rookie error on the infant mortality study …. I did not check the date. It was published in 1985. An amazing decrease in infant mortality; from 75 per 1000 down to 25 per 1000.

          And, I may have to turn in my NC Commenter Button for this one: the population graph, with other Central American Countries, was the RATE of population growth! I was looking at the downward curve and did not check out titles of the axes.

          However, I did double check the percent of the population that are Indigenous Mayan; 40%. And, both the infant mortality rate and the life expectancy are rated among the worst in the Americas.

          So, in some ways, it’s a case of what goes around, comes around. White Europeans colonists move from their ‘homelands’ (where they were the victims of ‘overpopulation’ and lack of land in so many cases) and bring with them their ideology of nature as an unending source of profit. Extract, clear-cut, mine, factory farm. Use fossil fuels to ‘improve’ life. Use the colony as a source of wealth for the folks back home. Now, when the same situation is hitting the colony, we dump on the Indigenous peoples for causing the problem. Damn, if they only used birth control!

  10. The Rev Kev

    “How many guns there are in the U.S.”

    Yes, this is a very serious story but I noticed something interesting in that article. If you scroll down to the third image, does anybody else notice that you have over a dozen armed, street police guarding the entrance to Hooters?

    1. urblintz

      “Hooters” omg – a most unfortunate cultural signpost. I wonder what men would think of a restaurant chain called “Peckers” featuring waiters in speedos?

        1. Eclair

          Long ago, I went with a group of female friends to a Chippendales. It was awful! I wondered why the hunky male servers were all wearing suspenders (braces), but found out that they were to prevent the customers from removing their shorts in a maenad-like frenzy!

          Hooters is even worse. But, I am of a puritanical bent.

          1. ambrit

            No, your Puritan forebears are not to blame for your dislike of the Hooters-Chippendales ‘experience.’ This is merely your innate good sense in action.
            Speaking as an ageing geezer, MCP Division, I early on learned to view the Hooters phenomenon, which is, really, everywhere in our society today, as an exercise in “Vice Signalling.” The inverse of “Virtue Signalling,” “Vice Signalling” is a display of machismo, licentiousness, and basically ‘privilege’ by the otherwise rather tame Socialized Male Conformist.
            Phyl is calling. Got to run…

          2. Oregoncharles

            “Maenad-like frenzy”?

            Hmmm – men in a strip club are expected to show considerable discipline – no grabbing, let alone pantsing, or have a little talk with the bouncer. Women aren’t?

          3. John A

            Hooters never really took off in England. Instead, for a time there was a spate of ‘school dinner’ restaurants in London, where the waitresses wore school uniforms with short skirts and if you were ‘lucky’ they chastised and ‘punished’ diners who were being ‘naughty’. The food itself was a kind of homage to boarding school fare. I never tried it, not my thing, but an acquaintance of mine was invited there for a business meal and gave me a run down.

            1. Plenue

              The Japanese have maid cafes, where you can go and live out a fantasy of having submissive servants.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I love Hooters. Used to work as a fry cook/oyster shucker/dish washer there. Read The Brothers Karamazov in the Kitchen! The wings are goodand if u dont like breaded, then order ‘Daytona Style.’ You wont regret it!

        1. ambrit

          Yes to that. I always check out the menu in a new place to eat. (Not that we can afford to eat out anymore.) I’ll try something basic, like the catfish or onion rings to see how good their cooks are. I always tipped the kitchen staff if the food was any good. Just a remnant of my days working as a waiter in the French Quarter. As in, when you are a waiter anywhere good, you had best keep the kitchen staff happy with you. I have had real disasters salvaged for me by friendly cooks going a bit out of the way to improvise for ‘difficult’ customers. (The ‘Tale of the Vegetarian Professor’ still wakes me up screaming from a deep sleep on occasion.)

          1. GF

            ‘Tale of the Vegetarian Professor’ sounds like an interesting story. Please elaborate. Recalling bad work experiences publicly can be very cathartic.

            1. ambrit

              Yes. A form of “the talking cure.” In this instance, though, more an exercise in the “Primal Scream.”
              I’m going to have to work up some notes and map out the story arc. There are so many sub-cultural references and obscure points of interest that an expositional introduction seems to be in order.

        2. ChrisPacific

          A group of us used to visit the local Hooters occasionally as part of our lunch rotation (I liked the wings). The waitresses were nice and got to know us after a while. I think we would all have been more comfortable without the skimpy clothes and suggestive branding, except for one guy who was generally the one to suggest we go, but who was too shy to behave any differently from the rest of us while we were there.

          Unlike the waitresses, we had the luxury of not going there on Friday or Saturday nights. I imagine it would have been quite a different experience.

    2. Dan

      The media always concentrates on mass shootings while ignoring the slaughter of African Americans in our urban areas.

      “Gun violence in the US is often talked about as if it’s a single problem. But it’s really at least four different ones:
      urban gun violence,
      domestic violence,
      and mass shootings.

      Suicides are the majority of the nearly 40,000 gun deaths in the US in 2017. But urban violence is the second biggest category, making up a majority of the 14,000 gun homicides that same year.”

      “Since October 2001, 410 people have died in domestic terrorist attacks and 520 have died in mass shootings,” Abt writes. “During that same period, at least
      one hundred thousand lost their lives to urban violence.

      It’s difficult to politicize the 100,000 daily dead, mostly black youth, but easy to highlight and to legislate more laws to disarm Americans based on 520 victims.

      1. Todde

        Now now. There are plenty of poor white people getting butchered, and they dont even get a mention.

      2. marym

        Minimizing a huge problem because other huge problems exist is always a flawed argument.

        On gun-related problems other than mass shootings, it’s not the case that the other issues you reference aren’t being addressed.

        Gun control advocates who generally support making assault weapons illegal, also support more controls like background checks and waiting periods for other types of guns and ammunition, opposition to concealed carry reciprocity, gun relinquishment during a mental health crisis, gun training and safety laws, engagement with vulnerable communities, and continuing research into the problems (links below) all of which would contribute to diminishing gun violence.

        As far as mental health, you will find that one “side of the aisle” far more than the other favors government support for mental health care.

        Democrats have a lot a flaws, but as far as the politicization of gun issues surely Republicans (and their NRA donors) who treat all the issues I outlined above as a threat to disarm Americans are worth a mention here.

        1. Dan

          Sorry, 520 versus 100,000 is not two “equivalencies.”
          Unless you believe black lives don’t matter.

          Name one existing or proposed hardware law that keeps or would keep a gangster from getting illegal guns to kill rival gangsters over drug territories.

          (other than legalizing drugs or M4A that would include free drug rehab)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Another question is, how would open borders impact arms?

            Do we still need walls/fences?

          2. pretzelattack

            geez, maybe if the neoliberals weren’t eviscerating the cities and drugs weren’t illegal this wouldn’t be happening. how many gang wars over alcohol these days?

            1. Chef


              The vast majority of homicides (including by firearm) in Chicago is due to gangs fighting for territory. Why? The more territory, the more illegal drugs they can sell.

              Any talk of combating innercity violence without mentioning the War on Drugs and over-incarceration are either shortsighted or agenda driven and deliberately obtuse.

      3. Darthbobber

        Haven’t really seen anything proposed that could be credibly described as disarming Americans.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          One commenter said “that horse has already left the barn” and that was depressing to me. He evoked door-to-door gun confiscations: how do we think that would that play out.

          (Happily migrated to The Lucky Country after Bush was reappointed the second time, they nipped the bud here while the going was good in the late 1990s. They increased the Medicare levy from 1.5 to 1.7% for one year to finance the buyback, and an estimated 660,000 firearms were destroyed. Can I just say how lovely it is to go to a movie or a mall or a pub without thinking the guy next to me might be armed with a gun. Also: I’m revising my U.S. travel plans, between the militarized police and the gun violence it’s simply too scary. I know that’s overreacting but many Australians I know are doing the same).

      4. prodigalson

        Dan, as someone who lives near Dayton, Ohio. Please shut up.

        Pretty much ALL of your posts are some variant of “leftists say this is the problem, but in reality this other area is the REAL problem.” And all of the real problems you point out happen to belong to the class of boilerplate Rush Limbaugh-style talking points.

        Your constant concern trolling is noted. I await your very concerned posts dealing with “black on black” violence next.

        Send me your address and I’ll mail you your punisher and thin blue line stickers to put on your truck.

      5. Elspeth

        No, it’s one problem, lives of despair, people don’t care about life, it has no meaning thus their life and others has no meaning. And it’s going to get worse.

        1. Inode_buddha


          Corollary to this I have this theory that dense urban centers magnify social issues, good and bad. Ask some young urbanite what guns are for, then go and ask someone who is 300 miles from anywhere, out in the corn. You will get 2 completely different answers.

          No, I’m never going to trust the government, no matter *how far* we move it to the left. You know why? Human Nature. Human nature is very corruptible, and you can bet your bottom dollar that power will be abused.

      6. Mattski

        Absolutely true that the media minimizes Black violent deaths, let alone the crushing and murderous poverty that all of the poor suffer on a daily basis.

        Absolutely untrue that this makes mass bloody f’ing carnage by weapons of mass destruction less horrific.

    3. Eclair

      I may be wrong, Rev, but I believe that those men (and one woman) in blue at the entrance to Hooters are El Paso fire department members. They seems to be armed with water bottles and cell phones. Probably having a bonding lunch at Hooters. But, I malign fire department and EMT’s everywhere. A neighbor, back in Long Beach, California, a long-time EMT, told me that if I was really in trouble, call the LBFD, not the LBPD.

      1. The Rev Kev

        By Jove you may be right on that ID. Your neighbour may be right too. The real trouble often only starts when the police turn up.

        1. Louis Fyne

          my brother is a police officer, 99.x% of police officers do the right thing day in, day out without fanfare.

          One doesn’t like the system? Become a police officer or encourage someone under 35 to be one.

          One should try the job out and see the “blue racism” that some people throw out there before casting stones. Be the change you want and all that.

          just saying. nothing personal.

          1. pretzelattack

            if 99.x% were doing the right thing, how come cops skate on abuse/murder charges so frequently? it’s almost like good cops don’t turn bad cops in.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Which country has the most feared police?

                Do such lists exist?

                And which country is the most haeavily policed?

                In 2014 a Vox article mentioned that Russia had five times as many police officiers, per capita, as China did.

                1. ambrit

                  Of course, one has to factor in the ‘block mothers’ and other quasi-official forces in place in Chinese society tasked with maintaining ‘harmony’ and the ‘orderly carrying out of the People’s will.’
                  I don’t think that Russia still has the local Commissars system working. So, formal police to shoulder that burden.

          2. Oh

            Louis, I think I’ll apply to become a police officer because I want to shoot and kill legally. /s

          3. notabanker

            Nothing personal, just saying, but having a brother does not make one an authority on the circa 670,000 law enforcement personnel in the US.

          4. The Rev Kev

            @Louis Fyne
            Actually I have many police in my family. Even have one back in the 1820s. Thing is, I have seen on TV how the US police operate there and it is crazy. I just read a story yesterday about some military base is helping a coupla hundred ex-special forces transition into police officers. Is this a good idea?
            When my eldest brother became a cop, he told me that if you are out in the field and you pulled your gun out, right there you had a stack of paperwork to fill out about justifying it. If you let off a shot, then there was more paperwork to fill out but the real fun began if you actually shot someone.
            In the meantime, a coupla days ago a cop saw a barking dog so, in fear of his life, he tried to shoot the dog and ended up killing the woman behind the dog.

            1. Plenue

              Police shooting dogs is ubiquitous. The DoJ called it an ‘epidemic’ last year. It’s not hard to find footage of it. And it’s very seldom that it’s actually remotely justified, like a charging, snarling rottweiler or something. I’ve seen multiple bits of video of cops murdering even just tiny lapdogs, but most of the time its average sized dogs being friendly. ‘The dog charged me and was barking’. That’s what dogs do! He wants to sniff you and maybe take a lick.

              I understand a certain amount of caution on the off-chance that he isn’t being friendly, but cops are constantly prattling on that their job is dangerous (it really isn’t) and that they’re some protection against chaos. So actually live up to the hype and eat the potential bite. When you just resort to shooting at the first sign of a dog, you look like an idiot coward.

              I just saw video a few days ago of an insane scenario where cops tased a guy walking his dog, causing him to drop the lease, and then immediately shot the ‘charging’ dog who was now off a leash. The dog ran across the street to die.

              I’ve also seen footage of them shooting clearly wagging dogs. Hell, I’ve seen footage of one cop about to shoot a dog tethered up in a yard, before the owner put herself in between the cops gun and the dog and told him no, that isn’t going to happen. She was then arrested and falsely charged, because of course she was.

              For the record, shoot my dog and I suspect (thus far I haven’t had to find out) I will immediately attempt to kill you. I will grab the nearest rock or whatever and I will beat that cops face in. If cops can’t be bothered to deescalate, I will respond in kind.

          5. Carey

            As a counterpoint, my father was a cop for a good part of his working
            life (60s-early 70s), but quit despite the relatively good pay and bennies
            because he couldn’t do in good conscience what he was asked / told to

  11. Phacops

    Re: Deluge of batteries.

    Greenwashing at its best.

    Batteries and solar/wind are not going to provide our energy needs by 2050 or any time after for the simple reason that it takes more energy to manufacture than is produced. Think solar will reduce our use of coal? Then you know nothing about how high quality quartz is converted to silicon metal through coal powered reduction. Plus the churn of raw materials actually increases since batteries and solar cells have finite lifetimes and are impossible to recycle without an extravagant use of energy far beyond what mining and initial fabrication took.

    Alternative energy, rather than reducing our carbon footprint, is merely a profit center for corporations and banks and meant to deter actually having a rational discussion about reducing the human population. Even here in the US our resource overrun indicates that we have an excess population of about 125,000,000 people without correcting for growth from immigration. The limits of growth predicted by The Club of Rome back in 1970 is here, now.

    1. polecat

      We would also have to dial back our energy-rich life styles considerably .. but for many, cognitive ‘energy’ dissonance is a hard drug to shake off.
      I would have to agree with M. J. Greer’s take, that we could step backward to, say, a 1930’s era of energy usage .. which is a fraction of what we, at least in the western economies use currently .. and not suffer for it. Much of what we now hold dear is just superfluous sh!t we could do without, right along with the consumerism the financiers, economists, and bernaysians constantly push us, the public, onto that waste-stream escalator to environmental hell !

    2. Louis Fyne


      100% renewable electricity (within the median NC’s reader’s lifetime) is a literal moonshot. Best case is only ~30% wind-solar by 2050—too late.

      All this greenwashing about less coal consumption and more solar installations ignores that the US is locking itself into a fracked-natural gas energy ecosystem for the next 50 years.

      2 steps forward, 1.5 steps back.

      1. Elspeth

        So 30% it is then, the rest we go without or go 2C°, and soon we won’t even need that. Humans can live without electricity it comes to that. We can’t live at 2.1C°.

        1. John k

          Well, some of us can, granted not 7 billion.
          Humans have occupied all parts of the planet save Antarctica for thousands of years, if and when the ice goes we’ll colonize that.
          population above 1B is an aberration that didn’t happen until 1800, not so long ago it was under 1B. So 100,000+ homo sapien years sub 1B, 200 years above.

          1. polecat

            Yep. And lets not forget about those pecky genes that will continue to work their divergent evolutionary magic …

            Who will be the first to grow a set of thermal regulatory plates on their head and backside ?

    3. Dan

      “Even here in the US our resource overrun indicates that we have an excess population of about 125,000,000 people without correcting for growth from immigration.”

      Wait until the “Demographic Socialists” have their way and we get open borders…

      From yesterday’s N.C., in case you missed it:

      “Open Borders Resolution — DSA National Convention 2019 DSA. “Be it resolved that DSA supports the the uninhibited transnational free movement of people, the demilitarization of the US-Mexico border, the abolition of ICE and CPB without replacement, decriminalization of immigration, full amnesty for all asylum seekers and a pathway to citizenship for all non-citizen residents.” Passed.”

      1. prodigalson

        You know that general DSA support is basically 1% of 1% of 1% and likely less than that in the general US population right?

        This is like being seriously concerned over flat earther membership.

        1. Partyless Poster

          Unfortunately after that resolution its probably going to get even smaller and less significant.

      2. Phacops

        Agree that such open borders would be a disaster on all fronts. And the fact is that our inability to discuss population overshoot also impacts discussion of immigration that quickly desceds into racist tropes.

        One only needs to look at the history of labor to see how immigration, and now visas, have been used for labor arbitrage. Plus, I don’t think it is a stretch to state that control of borders is necessary for a cohesive society. However, in our all against all economy I wonder if we have many common interests that span our economic classes.

    4. heresy101

      Boy, the Kock brothers are getting their money’s worth today!!

      Some people can’t read the hand-writing on the wall:

      1) Coal is dying rapidly and likely will be gone in 15-20 years:

      2) Renewables are dropping in price so much that renewables will likely begin to replace gas! This articles describes several actual occurrences of that occurring – renewables replacing gas:

      3) Offshore wind (floating in the Pacific) will be the biggest electricity generator in the future. Check out Scotland. These are 6MW turbines that will be 12MW in a couple of years:

    5. John k

      It’s early days, and solar has already cut coal use. Coal generated electricity down a quarter, half the top ten producers have gone bankrupt, while Peabody, the biggest, shares down 2/3, maybe in trouble in next recession… wanna roll over their debt?
      Operating coal plants are already not competitive with the brand new solar farms, latest Texas bid of .022/kwhr includes storage. And prices continue down. State utility boards will see growing pressure to shut expensive polluting coal plants and buy power from cheaper solar and wind, particularly as cheap battery storage becomes part of the package.
      Coal can’t compete today, imagine in 2025. And imo over half of all cars will be e cars by then, oil is next industry to see crashing price that strands assets.
      Trump can’t stop it. Imagine Koch brothers desperation. And I bet it’s all Exxon’s board talks about.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Man Claiming to Be Puerto Rico’s Governor Will Let Courts Decide”

    Maybe he can get on the horn to Juan Guaidó of Venezuela for a few hints and tips on being a self-proclaimed leader.

    1. Danny

      The Bloomberg piece is weak. It’s because the threshold question is whether the self-declared governor was properly appointed to his previous position (equivalent of Secretary of State) in the waning hours of the rossello administration. If not, then the issue is resolved against him and he isn’t the governor.
      Miami Herald has better coverage of the region and had more detailed articles, including the following

  13. MRLost

    Moon Calls for Peace Economy With North Korea – When you think about it, a unified Korean peninsula would have at least one thing going for it that Japan does not currently have….

    North Korea’s nuclear weapons could be the currency the leaders of North Korea use to buy their way into amnesty and prominence in a unified Korea. South Korea could make the unification process into an improved version of the German unification epoch whereby the industrial and financial capacity of the South transforms the North into … well, a better place.

    The history of the Korean Peninsula is frequented by invasions from one neighbor or another with China having repeatedly invaded in the distant past and the early 20th Century Japanese colonization of Korea a recent, bitter and horrific memory. A nuclear armed Korea would be secure against future “difficulties” with its more powerful neighbors. The rest of the world would shrug since there are already nuclear weapons in Korea and might even consider a transferal of control to a democratic government a huge improvement.

    One thing is certain; those weapons are not going anywhere.

    1. bwilli123

      As soon as Korea unifies Japan will flick the switch to being a Nuclear Arms Power (officially)
      As such there would be no need for the US Nuclear Shield.
      Hence Korea will not be allowed to re-unify.

    2. Jeff W

      The history of the Korean Peninsula is frequented by invasions from one neighbor or another with China having repeatedly invaded in the distant past…

      From the description of Dr. David Kang’s book, East Asia Before the West Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute:

      From the founding of the Ming dynasty in 1368 to the start of the Opium Wars in 1841, China has engaged in only two large-scale conflicts with its principal neighbors, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

      Kang, Professor of International Relations and Director, USC Korean Studies Institute, refers to the formally hierarchical nature of the East Asian “tribute system” in this YouTube video:

      So, this idea of equality is deeply woven through international relations…But…East Asia has a very different historical sense of international relations, what we world call a hierarchic, not equality—which sort of intuitively—why would you think [nation states] are the same, they’re not the same—but rather a rank order And the interesting thing is that, in Europe, you had an idea of equality, formal equality, informal inequality—because, of course, there were some countries that were bigger, more powerful than others—and endless fighting. And in East Asia, you had formal hierarchy, formal ranking of countries, informally, the big countries China left everybody alone, they didn’t really interfere in…Korean domestic politics at all, so informal equality and centuries of stability.

      [My transcript, emphasis added.]

      There seems to have been internal stability as well. The extraordinary prevalence of just three surnames, Kim, Lee (Yi, Rhee), and Pak (Park, Bak) in Korea—they constitute 45% of Korean surnames—might be an indication, as Dr. Mark Peterson, professor emeritus of Korean, Asian and Near Eastern languages at Brigham Young University, puts it, of “the remarkable peaceful and stable tradition of Korean history,” where the ruling aristocracy did not (with one exception) destroy the previous dynasty, as was common elsewhere.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        In the West the game is chess, where the object is to kill the king. In the East they play Go, where the object is to gain territory.

        Very different mindset. We get “Iraq” via a very unreliable puppet in Baghdad, and the Chinese get the oil. In Afghanistan and we get a “president” that can’t even hold onto the title “Mayor of Kabul” and is not even invited to the U.S. terms of surrender talks with the Taliban.

      2. ewmayer

        I doubt most Koreans would agree with your quoted author’s depiction of multiple invasions by imperial China and centuries of vassal-statedom as examples of the Middle Kingdom “leaving everybody alone.”

        As to MRLost’s “well, a better place” – I similarly doubt most North Koreans want the kind of better-placedom represented by modern South Korea’s hypermaterialism, and I doubt they fancy being looted and exploited by greedy S. Korean conglomerate crime families. They are a proud people, Western-MSM propaganda about mass starvation and the wretched refuse of their teeming shores notwithstanding. Yes, I believe most of them want eventual reunification, but not on terms dictated by monied S. Korean elites.

      3. Oregoncharles

        ” The extraordinary prevalence of just three surnames, … “the remarkable peaceful and stable tradition of Korean history,”

        Actually, no, if Korean surname inheritance is anything like ours, that implies that an awful lot of families were wiped out. I don’t think it indicates “stability” at all – but I know nothing about Korean history, so I don’t know what it does indicate.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Korea was the route chosen by Hideyoshi to invade Ming China.

      Near the end of WW2, the fear in Tokyo was of the Red Army coming down through Manchuria and Korea to invade Japan.

      The 2 bombs stopped that potential soviet invasion of Korea.

    4. David

      The ROK has been trying for the last twenty years or so to think through the consequences of becoming an involuntary nuclear power. Their nightmare scenario is the sudden collapse of the North with nuclear weapons going missing.
      The Koreans have the capability to go nuclear now, although there are different views about how many months/years it would take. They were caught a few years ago by the IAEA enriching uranium to highly dangerous levels. My own guess is that they would agree to destroy the warheads, for a substantial political price, but keep any technology they acquired, especially in warhead design and guidance systems.
      Oh, and don’t forget that a unified Korea would have a long and porous border with China. A lot of people in Seoul are mulling that one over.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are a lot of Chinese in Korea (many of them from Shandong).

        On the other hand, there are many Koreans in Manchuria today.

          1. Oregoncharles

            How far is it from Korea to Japan? Not far enough for an ABM defense, I would think.

  14. John

    McCarthy said it was mental illness that made him do it and Trump blamed the media and mental illness. The media may be and usually is feckless and there is plenty of mental illness to go around, but take away readily available Assault Rifles with extended magazines and the likelihood of 29 dead and 50 wounded diminishes to the vanishing point. Who was the last “active shooter” with a bolt action rifle or even a semi-automatic like the M-1 I used when in the army. The odds of mass slaughter go way down and who want to be an “active shooter” without the prospect of mass casualties.

    I realize such an argument is a non-starter in the face of obeisance to a peculiar interpretation of the Second Amendment. Keep your gunz. Lose the military style assault weapons.

    1. ambrit

      I have to go way back to the 1966 Texas Tower shooter for bolt action mass murder.
      But this example is of the ‘Lone Sniper’ variety of crime while the automatic rifle crimes are of a ‘shoot everything that moves’ style.
      Even I must admit that large capacity magazines on automatic rifles are useful for nothing else than murder.

      1. Dan

        Before JFK’s assassination, in a mostly white, homogeneous civil society, with few anti-depressants and psychotropic drugs available, any adult could mail- order a gun of any type or walk into a hardware store and buy one over the counter like a light bulb.

        There were no mass shootings.

        So what happened to society?

        1. Monty

          As soon as the US didn’t have a credible rival to keep it in check, their sociopathic “me first” ideology swamped the world like a deadly infection. It left husks in the place of the institutions and values that were once holding things together.

        2. Elspeth

          Doesn’t matter what happened, matters where we are at. Reality for many is ‘anything goes and nothing matters”. Thus to many life has no meaning, theirs, yours, anyone’s. Some kill them selves with drugs, some kill others with guns. It all the same. Thankfully, as we can’t change things, reality is doing it for us. Between the Neolibs winning the jackpot and climate change as the world wide end, it seems like there is a real opportunity in just trying to stay alive. Of course, going to need the help of your local community so learning to get along along will be a challenge. But, it’s that, or that’s it.

        3. ambrit

          The similarity of today with the Turn of the Century Robber Baron Era, (the first one, around 1900,) is instructive. There were mass shootings and the like back then. Consider the Ludlow Mine War or the Kentucky Coal Field Wars, for openers. The incredible disparity in wealth between the classes bred an almost nihilistic despair in the poor and working classes. Much of this was acted out in rage and violence. After WW-2, there was a growing middle class and uplifted working class, mainly as the results of policies enacted by the government. Less stress equals less violence. (I welcome correction here. I don’t have the time to do the statistical research.) Today, the conditions of the Early Robber Baron Era are being replicated. Stress is rising and so is compensatory violence.

        4. Summer

          Maybe it’s the “anger” stage of grief…grief over facing that the dream is a nightmare.

        5. Craig H.

          Back in the ’90’s Geraldo Rivera or one of his generics had an episode entitled “The Pill that Kills” about sensational prozac fails. I tried to find it on google and youtube and it was buried so far I could not find it. There seems to be a lot of pill killing.

        6. CarlH

          What happened? Guns weren’t fetishized back then like they are now. The NRA in those days was a gun safety organization and not the psychotic lobbying arm of the gun industry it is now. Guns weren’t micro-marketed to each and every demographic individually and the mighty Wurlitzers on Madison Ave., although mighty, had not perfected the “gun as an extension of your family blog” concept yet, and fear inc. was still in it’s infancy, waiting for 24hour cable news and Fox to really mainline the hatred and paranoia straight into the American mainstream. That’s without even mentioning the pressures and debasements that the neoliberal folly have brought everyone, which has ratcheted tension in society up a few notches all by it’s lonesome. Where have you been the last 30 years?

    2. MT_Bill

      The last one to use a bolt-action was one of the first. Charles Whitman, Texas, 1966. 15 dead, 30 wounded, 30-06 bolt-action Remington 700. He had a bunch of other weapons, but that was his primary one.

      Not that the new smaller caliber semi-auto rifles don’t make it easier to kill people, that is exactly the purpose of the design.

      1. ambrit

        I have read that the Remington 700 was a preferred weapon of snipers in the Indochina War.

        1. MT_Bill

          The military version of the Remington 700 is called the M24 sniper system. It is still in use today and is the primary sniper rifle for the US Army and Airforce.

          The underlying design of a bolt action rifle has been perfected for a long time, it’s just the mass production of highly accurate rifles at a low cost that’s been perfected recently.

          1. ambrit

            The main difference I can think of here is that between aim and fire and point and fire. In the second case, somehow best illustrated for me by the Russian PPSH, it’s area suppression fire that counts. Two different mind sets are involved.
            Roughly speaking, it takes time and practice to learn how to aim and fire. With fully automatic guns, almost any fool can play.

  15. Whoamolly

    Re: AI predicts movie hits

    The modern search for the formula of a successful play, novel, or film dates from the 1920’s. None so far has been consistently successful.

    One day, AI will probably write successful ‘pot boiler’ fiction. I expect it will use a story formula and A-B testing. The computer might Write 1000 stories, test them on a pre-selected Internet audience and “publish” the one or two that hit.

    Propaganda and political narratives will probably be written the same way. Instant stories that sway the opinions of a nation. I would be surprised if this isn’t already happening in some 3 letter agency.

    1. ambrit

      All we need now are AI movie critics to review the AI generated movies.
      I can imagine such a review opening with; “This film bytes!” Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Hmmm…..

  16. The Rev Kev

    “8chan Is a Normal Part of Mass Shootings Now”

    Sounds like a trial balloon for censoring sites like 4chan and 8chan. Did the author write a similar article after the Christchurch shooter live-streamed his murders on Facebook about how Facebook is a normal part of mass shootings now? At any rate the same author has penned an article how Cloudfare has pulled its services from 8chan-

        1. ambrit

          The problem is, the consultants, spin doctors, pollsters, etc. etc. get paid, win lose or draw. Now, if campaign consultants were only paid if the candidate won the election, that would at least cut out some of the graft. Put the entire political class “on commission.”

  17. Carey

    Craig Murray- ‘In the World of Truth and Fact, Russiagate is Dead. In the World of the Political Establishment, it is Still the New 42’:

    JH Kunstler- ‘Hold the Teddy Bears and Candles’:

    “..For many, there is no armature left to hang a life on, no communities, no fathers, no mentors, no initiations into personal responsibility, no daily organizing principles, no instruction in useful trades, no productive activities, no opportunities for love and affection, and no way out. This abyss of missing social relations is made worse by the everyday physical settings for everyday lives based on nothing: the wilderness of parking lots that America has turned itself into. Such is the compelling myth of the New World as a wilderness that we obliged ourselves to re-enact it, minus nature, including human nature, especially what may be noble and sacred about human nature..”

    1. Plenue

      As is typical of Kunstler, there’s sheer nonsense sprinkled in there (porn is bad, too much government, lack of fathers being specifically the problem, as opposed to just lack of people willing to help raise a kid) besides the good bits.

  18. barrisj

    Let’s see if Trump Administration insiders consider deep-sixing Stephen Miller as the requisite sacrifice to mollify the mountains of criticism incoming the WH after racist shooter devastates El Paso. Miller – aside from Trump himself – is certainly the public face of the acute animosity generated by the administration toward Hispanics, and he quickly could become just another bit of disposable jetsam booted out.

  19. Tom Stone

    Australia banned the possession of semi automatic and slide action rifles and shotguns in 1996.
    The best estimates available show that 20% of those types of weapons were turned in to the government.
    80% of otherwise law abiding gun owners preferred to become felons rather than turn in their now illegal guns.
    How did this law affect violent crime?
    It didn’t.
    The major effect is that organized criminals like the Bikie gangs now use craft produced 9MM submachine guns.

    Mexico banned the private ownership of firearms well over a decade ago,
    Has it reduced violent crime there?
    Well, no.
    Criminal gangs are now mostly armed with firearms procured from the Military, the police and the US DOJ ( The “Gunwalker” program”)

    There are a LOT of guns in the USA, the best estimate for AR type rifles is about 20 million…

    Just for the sake of argument let’s say that there are 50 Million Semi Auto rifles in the USA and that the same percentage of Americans comply with a ban on their possession as Australians did.

    We now have 40 million new armed felons to deal with…
    Which might get messy.

    As to banning large capacity magazines, these are made from sheet metal boxes and springs.
    And not only are there a lot of them out there, they are not difficult to manufacture.

    Mass shootings are a symptom of hopelessness and despair, a reaction to living in a society that is manifestly unjust and corrupt.

    My answer?, Start with M4All, and a living wage.
    Start jailing the wealthy and powerful when they commit crimes.
    I could go on, but my point is simple.
    When people have no stake in Society they act like they have no stake in Society, and some of them are going to going to behave in violent and irrational ways.

    1. Yves Smith

      Your comments on Australia’s gun reforms are false and fall in the category of “making shit up,” a violation of our written site Policies.

      From the Atlantic last year:

      Over the years, advocates of the legislation have pointed to it evidence of successful gun control. As [Uri] Friedman noted:

      The number of mass shootings in Australia—defined as incidents in which a gunman killed five or more people other than himself, which is notably a higher casualty count than is generally applied for tallying mass shootings in the U.S.—dropped from 13 in the 18-year period before 1996 to zero after the Port Arthur massacre. Between 1995 and 2006, gun-related homicides and suicides in the country dropped by 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively, though these declines appear to have since leveled off. Two academics who have studied the impact of the reform initiative estimate that the gun-buyback program saves at least 200 lives each year, according to The New York Times.

      Last year, on the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre, John Howard, the center-right leader whose government introduced and passed the legislation, said: “It is incontestable that gun-related homicides have fallen quite significantly in Australia, incontestable.” In the interview, he also cited a 74 percent decline in gun-involved suicide rates as evidence of the legislation working.

      I have trouble with the next section in the article, which argues that social investments could have contributed, since the business-friendly Liberal Party was in power during the period after the gun reforms, with John Howard as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007. Admittedly gun death rates had started falling in the 1980s, but improvements in social welfare programs stopped under Howard.

      Vox points out:

      There is also this: 1996 and 1997, the two years in which the NFA was actually implemented, saw the largest percentage declines in the homicide rate in any two-year period in Australia between 1915 and 2004.


      There have been a number of studies published on the impact of the NFA on firearm-related deaths in Australia. According to a 2011 summary of the research by the Harvard Injury Control Research Centre, a number of studies suggested beneficial effects from the law changes, with a reduction in mass shootings, and a reduction in the rate of firearm-related deaths (both homicides and suicides) overall.

      Researchers from the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in 2006, 2016 and 2018 looked at the number of mass killings before and after the NFA, and also whether the law changes affected the number of firearm-related deaths. They found that there was a drop in the rate of firearm deaths – particularly with suicides – but were cautious about attributing this to the NFA with the methods they used.

      Their research also showed that while there had been 13 mass shootings (using the definition of five or more people killed) in the 18 years before the law changes, there had been none in the 22 years following (though there was one mass shooting involving seven members of one family at Margaret River in Western Australia in May 2018)….

      Another approach was taken by researchers from the Australian National University and Wilfrid Lauer University. In this study, the researchers used state-based differences in gun buybacks and showed “the largest falls in firearm deaths occurred in states where more firearms were bought back”.

      While two studies found either no reduction in firearm deaths before and after the NFA, or a reduction only in firearm-related suicides, but not overall suicides, the methods for both of these studies were subsequently criticised by other researchers.

      Finally, you imply all the guns in private hands (not bought back) are illegal. That’s false:

      A person must have a firearm licence to possess or use a firearm. Licence holders must demonstrate a “genuine reason” (which does not include self-defence) for holding a firearm licence and must not be a “prohibited person”. All firearms must be registered by serial number to the owner, who must also hold a firearms licence.

      BBC reported last year that officials estimated that fewer than 10% of the guns in private hands were illegal.

      From 2002 to 2004, I lived in Sydney a stone’s throw from its notorious sex district, which was also a hotbed of drug dealing. There was not a single gun crime in the ‘hood the entire time I was there. The only gun crime in Sydney then took place in the Redfern area, and they involved pistols only. Guns were so not a factor in normal life that I was willing to intercede in a domestic violence incident, something I never would have dared do in New York.

      1. CoryP

        Thanks, Yves and everyone else for such good moderating. Many of us don’t have time to check all references and the general high quality of the discourse here has the perverse effect of making one maybe too trusting.

  20. Carolinian

    Mass shootings are a symptom of hopelessness and despair, a reaction to living in a society that is manifestly unjust and corrupt.

    And therefore you shoot up a Walmart–not exactly a hangout of the elites–with special focus on Hispanics?

    America may often be unjust and corrupt but in the despair department I doubt that it comes close to truly poor countries. If anything we suffer from affluenza and these young male shooters probably get most of their violent ideas from movies and video games. In any event killing the innocent is hardly a blow in some sort of class war. News reports say the shooter from Dallas was a loner who was bullied in high school–in other words a cliche of young adult alienation but in this case with heavy firepower.

    1. john ashley

      I think this is a big part of the problem. The despair is INCREASED with more choices placed in front of a young person.

      See “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz.

      These kids are being driven to despair and then …………………….

      Notice the hopelessness in some of the ramblings from these kids.

    1. paul

      I haven’t looked at it in a while, but I thought it was a pretty good aggregator/clearing house when I did and Michel Chussodovsky always seemed pretty reasonable to me.

      To paraphrase Omnicorp’s VP,Dick Jones, good information is where you find it.

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