Links 9/12/19

Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple Crown NY Post (RR). And probably bribed some breeders to get his foals into top-ranked Farm, too.

Banks Are Finally Starting to Account for Climate Change Risk Bloomberg

Confusion and Defiance Follow California’s New Contractor Law NYT. Stoller comments on the “defiance” part:


Brexit is an overly dynamic situation just now:

Brexit Disaster Capitalism: £8 Billion Bet on No Deal Crash-Out by Boris Johnson’s Leave Backers Byline Times. Hmm.

Fury as Tory Cabinet minister claims ‘many people’ believe judges are biased over Brexit after prorogation ruling Independent

More on Scottish judges’ prorogation ruling, thread:

BoJo lied to the Queen!?!?!

English judges explain decision to reject prorogation challenge Guardian (Clive).

Will Boris Johnson solve Irish border issue in Brexit talks? FT

This engineer demolished Boris Johnson’s idea for a Scotland-N Ireland bridge and it’s devastating stuff The Poke. “Obsolete munitions” seems like a useful metaphor….

Garvan Walshe: No Deal has failed. The choice is May’s deal, no Brexit – or no United Kingdom. Conservative Home, of all places. “Dominic Cummings, who combines the flexibility of the younger Moltke with the defence-minded attitude of Marshal Foch.” Burn!

Will Brexit Trigger England’s Second Civil War? Bloomberg

How the UK Security Services neutralised the country’s leading liberal newspaper Daily Maverick


Colombia’s armed forces on alert over Venezuela military exercises Reuters


Kashmir Under Siege: One Month of Silence. The Wire

Rep. Pramila Jayapal castigates Modi government for human rights violations in Kashmir India Abroad

The great walls of India: Sons-of-the-soil demands are being enshrined with special laws in many states, from MP to AP Times of India

The Koreas

Korea-Japan and the End of the ’65 System – Part IV: The ’65 System’s Decline Ask a Korean!


Out of Control – Hong Kong’s Rebellious Movement and the Left naoqingchu (闹清楚). Interesting overview.

Singing in the malls (examples). More:

How close are Hong Kong’s protests to China’s ‘red line’? PRI

Govt weighing up using emergency law: Teresa Cheng RTHK

* * *

Provisions on the Governance of the Online Ecosystem (Draft for Solicitation of Comments) China Law Translate

Hollow and fragile:

Cheeky of People’s Daily, though!

Trump Transition

Donald Trump delays tariff increase on request from China FT

Trump’s call for negative rates threatens savers Reuters (KW).

ICE Fails To Properly Redact Document, Reveals Location Of Future ‘Urban Warfare’ Training Facility Newsweek

Trump officials tour unused FAA facility in California in search for place to relocate homeless people WaPo. “Relocate.” A horrid solution. To a problem that the Democrat-dominated oligarchy in Calfornia created and will not solve. Did they imagine nobody else would seize the opportunity?

Trump administration seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes to combat youth addiction Reuter. Small ball, like Bill Clinton on school uniforms.

Trump says Bolton a ‘disaster’ on North Korea, ‘out of line’ on Venezuela Reuters

Democrats Somehow Frame Bolton’s Exit As A Bad Thing Caitlin Johnstone, Medium

John Bolton’s Dismissal Craig Murray

Fireman Sam axed as brigade mascot for not being inclusive BBC (KW). “Fireman Sam [will] be replaced with fire extinguisher-shaped mascots called Freddy, Filbert and Penelope.” So gender is replaced by commodity fetishism. Gotchyer idpol right here in this nutshell.

The myth of a unified world populism FT


Why is the 9/11 Mastermind Still Awaiting Trial? The American Conservative

We are all hostages of 9/11 Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Scabs Stonekettle Station

Seinfeld – “The Twin Towers” An Original Spec Script (PDF) Billy Domineau. A parody (granted, it’s hard to tell, these days). From 2016, more germane than ever.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Whistle-Blower Tells the Backstory of Jeffrey Epstein and MIT Media Lab (interview) Chronicle of Philanthropy

Hype vs. Reality at the MIT Media Lab Chronicle of Higher Education

Jeffrey Epstein found the weakness of universities FT (DL).

Class Warfare

Study Shows Income Gap Between Rich and Poor Keeps Growing, With Deadly Effects NYT. Everything’s going according to plan.

Thomas Piketty’s New Book Brings Political Economy Back to Its Sources Pro-Markets

Economics Can’t Explain Why Inequality Decreases Peter Turchin, Evonomics

The Future of Capitalism Bloomberg

I Was Caroline Calloway Seven years after I met the infamous Instagram star, I’m ready to tell my side of the story. The Cut

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books Slate

A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked The Atlantic. Word of the day: Bereitschaftspotential.

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

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. ex-PFC Chuck

    The Michael Hudson post earlier this morning is the MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL READ THIS ELECTION CYCLE!

    1. a different chris

      Hmmm, it’s just “OK”. A bit delusional in parts, for instance he says “stayed home or voted Green” but what was the Libertarian vote total again? Yeah. So when you dismantle the Dem party as much as I’d like to just for the joy of kicking it to the curb, I don’t think the Green Party is gonna take it’s place, as much as I would also like that result.

      We have a Constitution that everybody at least claims can only support a two-party system. I’m not sure why they make that claim beyond the fact that that’s what always happens. But it does, so dismantling one of the two won’t necessarily get it replaced with what you want.

      1. Jon S

        Conceptually, a winner-take-all political arrangement, as designed by the federal constitution, must eventually lead to a 2-party system. Not that it was planned or baked in. When the sole goal is to get the highest vote count, multiple factions coalescing into the minimum number of parties possible is selected for.

        Imagine a system where the objective is to represent the maximum number of people with a minimum number of representatives. So, say, the top 4 vote getters win regardless of party. This would lead to far more parties and a more fractious government. Pick your poison.

    2. David

      Without pretending to tell Americans what to do, I’d just add that this argument reinforces my view that the western political parties that once represented vaguely progressive and even leftist ideas are now effectively dead. In many countries they are already down into the single figures, but the vagaries of electoral systems such as the UK’s and US’s keep some of them alive. They are, however, essentially incapable of reforming themselves, and must be allowed to go under.
      A lot of people accept that analysis, but then look horrified when I point out that, logically, we should help these parties to disappear as soon as possible, to permit their replacement by parties of the genuine Left. This means actually voting for right-wing candidates even if we don’t like their ideas. For many people that’s a step too far. They want a genuine leftist party to emerge; they just don’t want to be complicit in destroying the current faux-leftist ones. But until those are destroyed, they will occupy the political space that a genuine party of the Left must have.

      1. John k

        Agree. Had Clinton won Bernie would have no chance this cycle.
        Only when enough elite dems want to win bad enough to support a progressive will a progressive be able to get the nom… so it has to be ultra right until a real leftist is on offer. And we got a silver lining this time… so far no new wars, and maybe with Bolton gone this happy situation continues.
        (Gnaws off paw to get out of trap.)

        1. David Mills

          To quote (paraphrase) Jimmy Dore: “The Democrats would rather lose to a Republican than win with a progressive.”

          Seems the Dem elites are more in it for the moneyball than anything else. A pox on all their houses.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Why would voting for the Right help more than voting for the actual Left parties you have? Your logic is lacking.

        Making things worse usually just makes things worse.

        1. David

          Because either there are no genuine left wing parties, or they are useless, or they can never occupy the political space, depending on the country. Of course if lots of people voted for genuine left wing parties the problem would go away, but this will never happen. Essentially, leftists should either vote for genuine parties of the Left where they exist, or otherwise help to bury the faux leftist parties by voting for whoever is likely to beat them.

    3. WestcoastDeplorable

      I agree. You can always count on Michael Hudson for a clear-thinking POV.
      Personally, my wife & I were big Bernie supporters in 2016….I even bought a Bernie t-shirt and erected a yard sign before the primary.
      Once we learned the “BIG FIX” was in, and that our vote didn’t count, and that Donna Brazile was feeding Hillary debate questions in advance; then seeing Bernie leave his big WH meeting with Obama with a deed on a beachfront house as payoff, we both said screw this…we’re voting for Trump.
      Can you imagine….if she had won, we would never have learned about the nefarious dealings in the background, which according to Prof Hudson continue within the DNC to this day!
      Despite all the garbage that’s been thrown at him to divert his, and our, success, Trump has prevailed and for I think the first time in history we’ve seen a candidate actually try hard to make good on his campaign promises. MAGA TRUMP 2020!

      1. Oh

        Yeah, right. MAGA it is by destroying the environment and putting the homeless in camps. Way to go! I had not heard about the deed on a beachfront house for Bernie. Link please.

        I know you’re frustrated by the DImRats and so am I but I’d rather vote Green Party or not at all vote rather than to this orange wig wearing liar and crook.

        1. Wukchumni

          In my dreams, I use quokka on a triple word score in Scrabble in my last move, winning the game in doing so, as my competitors claim it’s a made up word that sounds vaguely Finnish.

          1. Janie

            “Rabbit Proof Fence” is a great 2002 film. It tells the true story of three part aboriginal girls who were taken from their homes, as part of a government program which continued until 1970, to be trained as servants. Watch, or rewatch, it.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    How the UK Security Services neutralised the country’s leading liberal newspaper Daily Maverick

    Really useful article, thanks. The process described looks all too plausible. Its disturbing too in a way that it didn’t need any particularly underhanded or secret methods – just a bit of old fashioned ‘good cop/bad cop’ pressure and some supposedly juicy interviews as bait. As most readers suspected, Viner is out of her depth when it comes to real journalism. One wonders though if there was anything behind her getting the job in front of some apparently more experienced and capable journalists.

    1. divadab

      Viner has turned the Guardian into a reliable part of the imperial propaganda apparatus. “Journalists” like Luke Harding, disgraceful liar for MI6, have privileged spots at the Guardian to spew their filthy lies.

      I used to read the Guardian in the 70’s and its current incarnation is an insult to its heritage.

      1. Olga

        Huh! Thanks. This confirms my theory (mentioned in comments) that the G. was “dealt with” right after the publication of Snowden’s info. As they were smashing those HDs, the paper was given a choice by the spooks – cooperate with us or perish. And yes, it is a far cry from the Manchester Guardian we read in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Power corrupts everything.

  3. jackiebass

    Boris Johnson is the British version of Trump. It is entertaining to watch the soap opera on BBC World.

      1. a different chris

        Boris is not stupid. He’s smarter than Trump by a long shot. However he is incredibly lazy and that appears as stupidity a lot of the time.

        Trump was always more cunning than smart, which is the political trait you want (and developing crap buildings that nobody wants takes a lot of political savvy). Now he’s clearly deteriorated of course.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    John Bolton’s Dismissal Craig Murray

    Worth reading alone for this insight:

    Which brings me to my point on identity politics. I had to push my way into this event through a crowd of angry students who were picketing the event in protest against the appearance of Julian Assange.

    Yet the very night before, serial war criminal John Bolton, one of the most evil men of power in the world, had spoken on the very same platform in the Oxford Union and not one single student had demonstrated against him. His reception inside was also on the fawning side. (Remember this is the venue that spawned the careers of David Cameron, Boris Johnson, William Rees-Mogg and others).

    That incident is to me is a microcosm of the use of identity politics by the state. Through self-evidently flimsy allegations, the state can mobilise feminists to silence the world’s most important dissident voices, while warmongers are feted. Enough “progressives” favoured Clinton’s faux-feminism to help ditch (aided by some cheating) Bernie Sanders’ bid for a better life for the mass of people. Here in Scotland the energies of the SNP are routinely diverted into gender and trans issues instead of getting on with Independence, while precisely the same tactics are employed against Alex Salmond as against Julian Assange, to take another major threat to the status quo out of the political game.

    I was listening to Joe Rogans podcast with one of my favourite comedians, Bill Burr. As usual they were having a rant about the impact of ID politics on free speech, but I was pulled up when Burr (normally very astute) talked about corporations being ‘bullied’ by IDPols into supporting… well, whatever the current fashionable cause might be. It seems that IDPol is rotting peoples minds to the extent that they actually think the establishment is a victim of it, rather than the originator and cause.

    1. barrisj

      TA Frank’s article title sez it all:

      Bolton’s resignation as national-security adviser is the rare event in which socialists, paleoconservatives, and libertarians might find themselves united in brotherly affection. It should also serve as a reminder that what passes for brilliance in Washington is often just belligerence.

      Bolton’s resignation as White House national-security adviser is the rare event in which socialists, centrists, paleoconservatives, and left and right libertarians might find themselves united in brotherly affection. It is mainly Dubya acolytes and the Republican establishment (if they differ) who are in mourning. “I’m very, very unhappy to hear that he is leaving,” said Mitt Romney, suggesting that John Bolton be replaced by “John Bolton.” . As the young Joe Carraclough in Lassie Come-Home tells an adult who offers him another pup, “I don’t ever want another dog. Never! I only want—Lassie!” But Romney can take heart over this much: that Bolton will return in some form, if only to alienate remaining fans. (“I spent political capital for him,” lamented George W. Bush, who was angered to see his presidency attacked by Bolton in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, after Bolton had no more use for him.)
      Presidents always have a Bolton-like voice whispering in their ear that a failure to launch a missile or send in the troops will destroy the credibility of the United States. Fortunately Donald Trump seems able to silence it a lot of the time. Bill Clinton once said that he always asked the same question any time someone told him he would look weak in the face of a foreign adversary: “Can we kill ’em tomorrow?” While an affirmative answer didn’t mean the threat was illusory, it did clarify the differential in power. “If we can kill ’em tomorrow, then we’re not weak, and we might be wise enough to try to find an alternative way,” Clinton explained. Trump, whether by method or gut, seems to be arriving at a similar place. Better still, Bolton won’t be anywhere nearby.

      Nice to see that The Mittster still has Bolton’s back.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Korea-Japan and the End of the ’65 System – Part IV: The ’65 System’s Decline Ask a Korean!

    Thanks for linking to Ask a Korean!, its one of the best blogs out there for understanding much of Asia in a way that isn’t usually reported. It is of course written from a Korean viewpoint, but from what I know his take of the whole issue is quite accurate, although he doesn’t quite make enough of the way that Korean politicians have used the issue for their own ends.

    But what he says about Abe can’t be said often enough – Abe represents the most far right extreme of mainstream Japanese politics and is a very dangerous leader – in his context he is as extreme (if much smarter) than a Trump or Bolsonaro. It would be very unwise to underestimate just how far he wants to go in re-establishing Japan as a military power in Asia and how little regard he has for non-Japanese Asians.

  6. Livius Drusus

    Re: Study Shows Income Gap Between Rich and Poor Keeps Growing, With Deadly Effects.

    This reminds me of a comment somebody once made to me about why older people are more conservative. It is not so much that old people are naturally more conservative or that they are members of right-wing generations (the argument often directed at Baby Boomers today) but that poor and working-class people die earlier and this means that the surviving elderly demographic is wealthier than it would be otherwise and this drives their voting behavior. Plus, as Bernie Sanders pointed out, many poor and working-class people don’t vote anyway no matter how old they are. Many see it as a waste of time given how the elite totally dominates politics.

    1. Steve H.

      The Class Warfare section is really interesting today;

      >Thomas Piketty’s New Book Brings Political Economy Back to Its Sources Pro-Markets
      >Economics Can’t Explain Why Inequality Decreases Peter Turchin, Evonomics

      Note that Milanovic is a common thread between these two articles. Turchin’s account of the conference trying to come to grips with inequality resets is a key question. Both articles agree that the development of inequality is better understood than the reset, and this section aligns with my understanding of what happened to the Democratic Party through the eyes of my own family:

      “To a large extent, traditionally left parties have changed because their original social-democratic agenda was so successful in opening up education and high-income possibilities to the people who in the 1950s and 1960s came from modest backgrounds. These people, the “winners” of social democracy, continued voting for left-wing parties but their interests and worldview were no longer the same as that of their (less-educated) parents.”

      This fits with the problem of the positive feedback loop between increased wealth and political control. I’ll split a couple of hairs with Turchin here.

      : “that’s why we don’t see truly extreme forms of inequality (when one person owns everything).” I’ve posted about the fat crocodile in the water hole before, and while Ming the Merciless may not have technically owned everything, I’ve read that people would bid farewell to their families before an audience, on the likelihood they’d end up dead. Power is the ability to say ‘No’ and that includes, you may be rich but you dead. Is it yours if it can be taken away at a moment’s whim? ‘Live like God owns everything.’ A negative corollary may be, you own nothing that can be taken away.

      : He includes pandemics as ‘violent,’ but ‘malign’ is the better label.

      : Milanovic’s trio of tech, globalization, and policy can’t be so easily dismissed. Globalization seems to have increased elite wealth concentration, and while it has given material wealth to the poorest, it sure looks like the American middle class has been the cui malo loser. Tech has certainly been able to redistribute power, but I’m not sure it’s causal. And I struggle to find a policy reset that’s not the tail end of malign events.

      Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

      Again, nice set of links you put together there.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        On Turchin, a very Daoist stance. No, not even economics can escape the Dao. It is hubris to think humanity can make the culture so lopsided and not expect repercussions.

        “I have heard of letting the world be, and exercising forbearance; I have not heard of governing the world. Letting be is from the fear that men, (when interfered with), will carry their nature beyond its normal condition; exercising forbearance is from the fear that men, (when not so dealt with), will alter the characteristics of their nature. When all men do not carry their nature beyond its normal condition, nor alter its characteristics, the good government of the world is secured.”

        -Zhuang Zhou

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I note your interests in Dao, and thans for the Zhuang Zi (or Zhuang Zhou) quote.

          Not sure how many are knowledgeable in this, and excuse my presumption, but for those curious, this from Wikipedia (article – Rule of Wen and Jing):

          The Rule of Wen and Jing (文景之治, pinyin: Wén Jǐng Zhī Zhì) (180 BC-141 BC) refers to the reigns of Emperor Wen of Han and his son Emperor Jing of Han, a period known for the benevolence and thriftiness of the emperors, reduction in tax and other burdens on the people, pacifism, and general stability. The Rule of Wen and Jing was marked by Taoist influences in political theory, due to the influence of Emperor Wen’s wife and Emperor Jing’s mother, Empress Dou. Taoist influence on government did not truly end until her death in 135 BC, during the reign of her grandson Emperor Wu of Han.

          The Rule of Wen and Jing is often viewed as one of the golden ages in Chinese history, in particularly the Western Han dynasty, and it paved the way for the long and stable reign of Emperor Wu. It also enabled Emperor Wu to maintain a powerful army and employ an aggressive foreign policy, which greatly expanded the empire and ultimately pushed the Han dynasty to its zenith. The main criticism against it, however, was that it made the rich richer and the poor poorer, due to the lack of mechanisms to redistribute wealth.

          Emperor Wu’s long reign thoroughly depleted the empire’s coffers, which took Emperor Wen and Jing decades to establish. The Han dynasty would not witness another golden age until the 1st century AD, during the rule of Emperor Ming and Zhang.

          Golden age.


          Reduction in tax.


  7. The Rev Kev

    “This engineer demolished Boris Johnson’s idea for a Scotland-N Ireland bridge and it’s devastating stuff”

    A 35 mile (56 kilometer) bridge is a bridge too far from an engineering viewpoint? How about a tunnel then. That distance is about the same as for the world’s longest tunnel – the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland – though that one is under a mountain. Consider the advantages. It would be secure from the notorious stormy weather in the Irish Sea, it would be under all those WW2 munitions and Boris could go on TV and say that he would have the Irish pay for it all. It is true that the longest underwater tunnel – the Seikan Tunnel – is only about a third the distance but I am sure that with all the industrial ability that the UK still retains as well as a skilled managerial class, they could get the whole thing knocked off in 5 years – so just after Macron said that he would have Notre Dame rebuilt by. Sound good?

    1. John A

      Well, an 18km immersed tunnel is being built between Denmark and Germany (Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link) which might be a more viable solution that a bridge to Ireland. However, those sunken munitions might be an issue for health and safety!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Fully agree. There is nothing like having a million and a half tons of WW2 munitions going off in your face to ruin your health record and to send your health premiums up. :)

      2. fajensen

        Eventually – We (Germany and Denmark) are still fighting over it.

        Possibly, one cannot know, only speculate, because the Danes keeps vetoing a marine sanctuary that Germany wants the EU to establish and that Denmark wants to keep strip-mining for fish forever.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Tunnel proposals for the Irish Sea are regularly raised – but nearly everyone agrees that despite the extra distance, one between the Republic and Wales would be far more viable economically. To know why, just tap the travel time (rail or truck) from any major urban area south of Manchester to Stranraer (the closest part of Scotland to Northern Ireland) and compare it to the trip to Liverpool or Holyhead. For pretty much any haulier, the ferry from Liverpool to Belfast or Dublin would be just as quick and probably a lot cheaper for accessing almost any part of Ireland, north or south.

      There is though an engineering reason why a tunnel probably isn’t a good idea – there are a series of poorly understood geological fault lines running up the Irish Sea. They aren’t particularly active, but nobody is quite sure that they are dormant either.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      The challenges of building a bridge as described by the engineer pale in comparison to those of trying to build and maintain a tunnel through the same area and depth.

  8. Alex morfesis

    The man on the ladder….”glory to Hong Kong” as the new “Chi lai” ? The man on the ladder was Liu Liangmo, who is one of the forgotten men of history….the March of the Volunteers,(aka chi lai), was a song from a movie, which Liu Liangmo then used to create a simple choir to connect people around a song to wrap around a movement. The man on the ladder is in reference to how he led the choir in song….the Chinese communist party will either notice the danger and piss in their pants or ignore it as both chang and Mao did at first did….one simple song ignored until it was too late by one simple man, Liu Liangmo, also ignored until it was too late… Like Metaxas from Ithaki, Liu Liangmo is white washed from our modern history books since the reality does not fit the narrative “required” for the citizenry to understand what really happened….

    To the victor go the history books

    1. Polar Donkey

      MIT media lab hype- I believe Epstein was trying to steal technology from the media lab. (Apparently, $250,000 bought you a license to steal) I am kind of glad to know that the moral rot is so bad among elites they are even bs-ing and ripping each other off. I hope those douchebags at media lab had Wells Fargo bank accounts. It would be the cherry on top of this corruption story.
      Everything is CAL-PERS and everything is falling apart.

  9. Wukchumni

    Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple Crown NY Post
    Thoroughbred horse racing and baseball are similar, both pursuits have moments of blinding speed, followed by lethargy more often than not. Any old nag on the track can run a mile in 1:40, but then there’s the half hour wait until the next race, even droll baseball isn’t that slow.

    We were at the horse races @ Del Mar about 6 weeks ago, and in the program, every horse in every race was using Lasix, so in essence, they’re all doing drugs while racing. Now, the move is to get away from using Lasix during race day, but presumably no biggie any other non-race day, so Wilbur can indulge. Lasix is seldom used in horse racing outside of the USA, and banned in many countries.

    In an unprecedented step of cooperation, the three major groups that control horse racing and most of the major independent tracks announced an initiative that would eliminate the use of race-day Lasix for 2-year-olds and a year later extend to all horses in stakes races, including the three Triple Crown races.

    Horse racing desperately needed a Triple Crown winner to promote a dying sport, MLB needed dingers, lots of them. With 16 games left in the season, the record for most cumulative league home runs was broken yesterday. It wasn’t humans taking steroids this time, which brought down the drug enhanced bambinos hitting them out of the park in the mid 90’s, it’s a more equal possibility for hitters, the juiced ball.

    1. jashley

      Horse racing in the states is a dirty game infected with regulatory capture on a scale that is impossible to overcome.
      The higher up the class ranks the more dirty it becomes.
      The incentive to “improve the feed and care” of the athletes is overwhelming.

      Justify was raced for exactly what happened.
      The racing was a means to the breeding rights sales.
      The game at the highest levels is all about those sales.

      So, any longterm racing health of the horse is of no importance.
      Give them anything to get them to perform for 4-5 races and then cashout.

      The stories you will read will never mention the rot of the breeding industry and the PRIVATE VETS that the big time stables employ to skirt the non-rules in place to protect the horse.

      It’s a joke and anyone who has been in it, knows it.

      The CHRB is a joke and if you knew the backstory of some of them you would find it unbelievable.

      p.s. the feed story excuse is laughable as testing 4X over the limit and being the only horse in the stable to so test is fall on the floor laugh out loud crazy.
      You REALLY believe a stable like Baffert gives unknown feed to their top prospects?
      Git real.

      1. wilroncanada

        funny things on race tracks — The Rev Kev
        Long story short: Father Murphy’s ass: the answer to a clergyman’s prayer. Punch lines only.
        Father Murphy’s ass shows.
        Father Murphy’s ass out in front.
        Father Murphy’s ass back in place.
        Bishop scratches Father Murphy’s ass.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      How/why would one rebuke oneself?

      Used to be that one was a patron state to the other (I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one was boss).

      Now their foreign policy agendas have fully merged. Sheldon and Bibi have a chat, then simply tell Cheetoh what to do next.

  10. dearieme

    Jeffrey Epstein found the weakness of universities

    Universities have only one weakness?

    Stranraer (the closest part of Scotland to Northern Ireland)

    Nope: the Mull of Kintyre is closer (and even less convenient).

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Colombia’s armed forces on alert over Venezuela military exercises”

    Speaking of Venezuela, does anybody remember good old Greedo? Seems that he went too far and may end up on a charge of treason finally. There is a large chunk of territory called the Essequibo that the British took from Venezuela illegally back in 1899 and gave to Guyana. It turns out that there might be an estimated 12.8 billion barrels of oil offshore from here which ExxonMobil has been sniffing around. This might explain the US military setting up in Guyana just recently.
    To cut to the short, Greedo and two top aids promised to drop all claims to this territory, which the UN has already judged to actually belong to Venezuela, in exchange for the UK supporting his grab for power. I can’t see that going down well with Venezuelans that. Here is the full story-

    1. Chris Smith

      I read about this earlier in the week on El Pais. I doubt it will be mentioned much in the English language press.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      An abiding feature of our age is that the thieves do their thieving in broad daylight, it’s probably because we’ve abandoned all threat of justice and the rule of law for the Davos UberMenschen.

      It used to be that such thievery was done with a little more decorum, hidden from view in back rooms and back alleys. They would even put people in “jail” if they got caught. I know, I know, how quaint.

  12. Roady

    Purdue Pharma Settles Opioid Case From Asher Schechter on Twitter. NYT says these are the tentative terms of a settlement agreement:

    • The Sackler family will pay $3 billion in cash over seven years.
    • Won’t admit wrongdoing.
    • Will continue to sell OxyContin under a new company.

    1. Roady

      CBS reports that over a dozen states are opposed or uncommitted to the deal. According to Channel News Asia, the Sacklers “refused to budge” when a counter-proposal was presented by the states. Purdue is prepared to file for bankruptcy as soon as this weekend or next.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re at about 1/2 a million deaths since the turn of the century via opioid overdose, roughly equal to all the American soldiers who’ve died on the battlefields of the 20th century.

        Sacklers have already gone morally bankrupt, the financial version a mere fade accompli.

        1. notabanker

          This story, like many others, portends future disaster for this country. It seems completely unavoidable at this point.

        2. notabanktoadie

          Many of those people were already dying – killed by government privileges for depository institutions, the means by which their livelihoods were stolen, destroyed, or outsourced without just compensation.

          So thinking of opioids as a form of assisted suicide is not that far from the truth.

          Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
          And wine to him whose life is bitter.
          Let him drink and forget his poverty
          And remember his trouble no more.

          Open your mouth for the mute,
          For the rights of all the unfortunate.
          Open your mouth, judge righteously,
          And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
          Proverbs 31:6-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      2. EricT

        Why don’t they strip the company of its intellectual property? It bothers me that the company can threaten bankruptcy if it doesn’t like the settlement. If there is a case for nationalizing a company, this is it.

    2. rd

      Still baffled why there are no criminal prosecutions so the Sackler family and others can join their homey drug dealer friends in state or federal pens.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        See my post above about the Davos UberMenschen, I don’t think people realize just where we’re headed if crime is no longer prosecuted. (Unless, of course, you stole a loaf of bread).

    3. inode_buddha

      This part about admitting wrongdoing. That really, really bugs me. So much so, that I just took my blood pressure pill. When was the last time a corporate entity admitted anything? Enron? THAT needs to change regardless of financials.

  13. John Beech

    Whistle-Blower Tells the Backstory of Jeffrey Epstein and MIT Media Lab (interview) Chronicle of Philanthropy

    I can’t help but reflect on the whistleblower’s flexible morals. She knew in advance but she needed the job. Not sure sure which one disgusts me the most; the one with squishy morals, or the deceased scum.

    1. Charger01

      The famous line from Thank You For Smoking, “I did it for the mortgage”, the white collar Numerberg defense.

    2. Lost in OR

      You’re quite the firecracker, John.

      In this age of impunity there are few among us who can claim moral purity. Or superiority. I sure can’t.

      Disgust is such a wonderful emotion. Right up there with hubris.

    3. Procopius

      … she needed the job

      I suspect the only ones there who don’t need the job because they can grift as well elsewhere, thanks to friends and connections, are the bosses. We have “laws” that don’t work very well to protect whistleblowers because lots of people need their jobs. There are about half a million people working as contractors for the “intelligence” agencies; several hundred, at least, must have known as much as Edward Snowden, but he was the only one who dared to reveal the illegality and wrongdoing.

  14. Wukchumni

    Trump officials tour unused FAA facility in California in search for place to relocate homeless people WaPo.
    I don’t know that the donkey show dropped the ball here, there’s just so many new homeless being added to the ranks, and they’re essentially our untouchables, you don’t want to get too close (squalor comes with the errortory) nor does law enforcement really want to deal with them.

    So far, getting tough on the down & out means completely rousting them from their lairs (with 48 or 72 hours notice) and throwing their worldly possessions in the trash, so as to clear out the whack-a-moles who’ll find somewhere else to live in an increasingly crowded market for alt-a real estate that carries no mortgage.

    As far as building new homeless shelters, the NHIMBY is strong in every city so afforded the chance to house them.

    I’m not sure that there’s much options between what has been done so far, and the outright removal to ‘freelocation camps’ (Luntz’ism) in the hinterlands, far from the mean streets.

    1. tegnost

      Would you care to speculate why there are so many homeless? Is it really simply because “alt a real estate” has no mortgage? I mean, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with skyrocketing rents vs stagnant wages. What gives?

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m only in the big leagues of the homeless SoCalist movement maybe 5x a year, and have watched it grow from hardly anything in Santa Monica in the 90’s (free grub in front of the Rand Bldg!) to seemingly everywhere in my drive-by sleuthing.

        Real estate has always been spendy in L.A., and moreso in housing bubbles 1 & 2 this century, along with rents.

        There’s a lot of factors causing people to go street camping, look at the slim cushion of 400 bucks that 1/3rd of the citizenry have in savings, when the transmission on your ride goes and no way-no how do you have $2300 to fix it, and you have to quit the job that depended on you being able to drive to work. Things spiral from there, etc.

        You have a little meth problem that turns into Crankingstein’s monster on you. Things spiral and anybody you know along the way down is adversely affected by your actions somehow, eventually ending up in a 2/3* in Brentwood-adjacent

        *a Coleman 2-3 person tent purloined from a Wal*Mart in Culver City

        1. inode_buddha

          You know what I don’t understand, we have these huge malls sitting empty, basically abandoned… why couldn’t some outfit turn them into indigent/temporary housing similar to the American Youth Hostels? I mean, our priorities as a nation are *so* borked

          (regarding the transmission, the day I can’t swap in a trans from a fresh wreck for $400 is the day I hang up my wrenches and retire… )

          1. chris wardell

            In Bradenton FL about two years ago a KashnKarry grocery store went defunk and the homeless took it inside..local police turned a blind eye
            Today the building is gone

          2. Janie

            An abandoned mall – what a great place for an internment camp for the homeless. I’m sure our prison industry can affix appropriate bars and alarms. And yes our national priorities are out of whack – the military uber alles.

            (If you live in an apartment or condo, you have no place to work on your vehicle. You may not have a place to store jacks and such. You may not be physically able to do the work any more.)

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s as many abandoned golf courses are there are out of business malls.

              You could put up an awful lot of people in tents on the fairways, much more than a mall would hold.

            2. inode_buddha

              Actually I was thinking of taking over the mall by a charity group, but that would be too much to ask, wouldn’t it.

              (I’ve done plenty of on-the-spot auto work in rental situations, no problem — it can be done if discreetly)

        2. skippy

          “have watched it grow from hardly anything in Santa Monica in the 90’s (free grub in front of the Rand Bldg!)”

          Ahhh memories … West Lake School girl friends philanthropy, nothing like Gelson’s shopping bags loaded with can goods to be dropped off at that location. Then again her mom, ex 60s liberal social worker got jaded and then became L.A. RE agent [did very well]. Homeless person near Fathers Office building [developer – waves at Sacramento Bee hate for messing with iconic shopping mall] on Rodeo Dr asked her for money, she offered to by food but they demanded money.

          Previously I remember the homeless march down from Point Dume, whilst house sitting at the Cove, lovely Colorado congressman asking me questions post ETS in my MOS, again a girlfriend related incident. Heck of a meet dad moment when arriving at the Cove house, unceremoniously kicked out older wealthy couple [bye … bye…] and then when the door closed shook my hand and offered me a line … chortle …

          Anywho … three of my post school age kids, one left at 15, are working for a private company that does admin for government social services. All I can say is epic scams by those have no needs exacerbated by private service companies that load the easy jobs to pad billing [frequent and often] whilst leaving the truly needy left out to dry. Too that my eldest son just returned from a trip to Melbourne with Girlfriend’ to see family, reports the homeless situation is quite acute and frisky, so the old saw about Oz being 20 years behind needs an up date or so it would seem.

          Last one for the road before I set off for my day with another Queenslander. West Lake girls friend from Bel Air house had stairs leading down to her Garden level bedroom next to the partyroom and glass surround spa overlooking the vista off the cliff …. last three presidents with family BBQ photo montage hung on the wall. Being a bit of a radical in Collage resulted in holiday get togethers resulting in adult conversations about reduced post Collage opportunities due to potential tripwires with prospects that had Government contracts … chortle …

          Sacred is the pouch, for a bit at least ….

        1. skippy

          Never understood that perspective, seems first monetarism and then quasi brand has more to do with it than the building itself.

        2. notabanktoadie

          1) End the Fed’s ability to create fiat for private interests.
          2) Allow all citizens to have inherently risk-free debit/checking accounts at the Fed itself and end all other privileges for depository institutions such as deposit insurance.

            1. notabanktoadie

              Speaking only for myself: Redistribution of assets eventually since the public naturally has a claim on what has been built with the public’s credit but for private gain – an obvious injustice – and restitution should accompany reform.

              However, reform may have to proceed alone for a while until the public becomes more aware that they’ve been cheated.

              That said, reform alone should benefit the non-rich considerably since, for examples:
              1) a Citizen’s Dividend would replace all fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending. This could be supplemented via negative interest on large and non-individual citizen accounts at the Central Bank.
              2) Banks would have to honestly borrow from the population rather than have captive depositors.

              1. skippy

                No I mean equities are a form of private money that Corporations can issue ex nihio and then convert into fiat, it seems to run afoul of your basic arguments about banks.

                1. notabanktoadie

                  When a corporation sells new shares in equity (common stock), it dilutes the voting power of existing shares. But, in principle, this is not an ethical problem since the management is presumably acting according to the will of the existing shareholders, the ultimate power in a corporation.

                  Otoh, when government-privileged depository institutions create new deposits, they dilute the deposits of existing depositors who have no say in the matter and no other choice (besides mere physical fiat, paper bills and coins) than to use one member of what is, in essence, a government-privileged usury cartel or another.

                  1. skippy

                    I see its primary a CTM based view point. I find that difficult to base anything off considering operational reality, along with the mismanagement by mainstream economics driving outcomes at onset rather than money.

                    1. notabanktoadie

                      The operational reality is this: Banks create deposits which are liabilities for fiat when they lend (“Bank loans create bank deposits” ).

                      However the non-bank private sector may not even use fiat except for mere physical fiat, paper bills and coins – only a government-privileged usury cartel may use fiat in inherently risk-free, convenient account form at the Central Bank.

                      Thus the liabilities banks create when they lend are largely a sham toward the non-bank private sector.

                      And sham liabilities are a cheat.

                    2. notabanktoadie

                      along with the mismanagement by mainstream economics driving outcomes at onset rather than money. skippy [bold added]

                      Reforming the money system is necessary but not sufficient since that still leaves the problem of rentiers – those who own more than their fair share of necessary real assets such as land at the expense of those who own little or none.

                      That said, proper reform of the money system might easily result in considerable real asset redistribution from the banks and the rich to the needy. Imagine, for example, how desperate banks could be for reserves when deposit insurance is abolished?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Trump officials tour unused FAA facility in California in search for place to relocate homeless people”

    Here is a thought. Suppose that Trump has all the Californian homeless rounded up and put away in places like that FAA facility, FEMA camps, disused military bases and the like. Then suppose that we saw film clips of the homeless sitting on concrete floors and with alufoil blankest wrapped around them behind wire mesh walls with no soap or toothpaste, etc just like those illegal emigrants.
    Considering that the bulk majority of them will be Americans with a fair number of vets among them, do you think that we will see the same level of outrage and protests that we have seen for illegal emigrants in such places with visits of people like AOC? Will they share the same compassion with their fellow citizens? Now for a twist. A group of lawyers go to these places to make absolutely sure that they are every single one of them is registered to vote. They are, after all, nearly all of them of legal voting age – all several hundred thousand of them. Trump’s DOJ may try to stop this but they would be on very shaky ground here. That could get interesting that.

    1. Steve H.

      > A group of lawyers go to these places to make absolutely sure that they are every single one of them is registered to vote.

      Interesting point, I did a quick search and found this:

      “One of the rules for federal lawsuits is that they have to be between people of different states; a person is unlikely to be considered a resident of a state if that person’s only connection to the state is being incarcerated there.”

      So, an extra twist. If it’s Federal, and the person is indigent, they may have less rights than if the state did it. I see a lot of ‘no fixed address’ in our police reports. How do they prove residency beyond American citizenship?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good point that. They have to be registered in one of the fifty States so I am not sure if it would be a case of these people having to prove that they live in California or whether it would be up to the Federal government trying to prove that they don’t. Hey, what if they put down their address as the camp that they are located in?

        1. T

          Some states allow homeless to use a church or shelter address, if that is where they get mail or have some other association. California allows homless to ID the place where they spend most of their time – like a street corner – to establish the themselves as a resident of a district.

          Plan works, so long as they don’t consider them incarcerated.

    2. rd

      If they can accomplish this before the 2020 census, then the homeless may be given a House seat and they can elect their own member of Congress.

      Many of the members of Congress sleep in their offices and shower in the House gym, so the homeless representative would fit right in.

  16. Wukchumni

    Trump’s call for negative rates threatens savers Reuters (KW).
    Will cash become a thing, rectangular enthusiasts who never lost interest in holding folding?

    1. polecat

      Reuters is being highly disingenous here. Savers .. er .. Impromptu Chumps, as rendered via Wall$treet, have been marked for destitution now for way more than a decade ! ‘Un’saving has gone into hyperdrive since 2008 !

      1. Wukchumni

        Not entirely true though in regards to saving, and thanks to the miracle of compound interest, one could confidently expect to double their haul in say 3 generations.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I deal with UHNW Europeans, already living under negative rates. Believe me, cash is a thing.

  17. Otis B Driftwood

    California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) passed this week, to the chagrin of Tony West, who is Chief Legal Officer for Uber. West is brother-in -law to Kamala Harris, who only supported AB5 under intense political pressure and late in the game at that. Another member of the Harris clan (Meena Harris) is also a hired gun for Uber.

    If it isn’t obvious already, don’t be fooled by Harris pretense to progressive values. She’s as neoliberal as the day is long. A shallow, corporate friendly opportunist.

    Enduring thanks to Tulsi Gabbard for exposing this phony.

    1. JohnnyGL

      She’s been trying to pivot away from wooing the African American vote and doing a lot more to puff up her Indian heritage.

      It’s failing, predictably, of course. I’m honestly amazed at how bad her campaign has been. It’s comical!

  18. Loneprotester

    Re. the Epstein/Media Lab articles. My take is that the Media Lab has long been a thorn in the side of rival departments, who compete for personnel, funding, and publicity with an entity that, shall we say, at least dabbles in smoke and mirrors. The Epstein-Ito imbroglio finally gave them a chance to bring out the long knives, and they are doing so with gusto. And I can’t say I blame them.

    However, all it takes is a few hours researching the Negroponte brothers and their multifarious connections in the corridors of power to raise all sorts of questions about the long-term relationship between such people and the Epsteins of the world. I’m not saying that Epstein was not an unreformed pedophile (he clearly was) but rather that he was also a conduit of money and power on an extremely high level internationally. If we focus only on Epstein and Ito and pedophilia we will miss the forest for the trees.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Someone needs to explain to me why on earth Bill Gates and Leon Black need to use Epstein as a liaison to make donations to MIT?!?!?!

      That this screamingly obvious question isn’t being asked is ASTOUNDING!!!

      1. Olga

        Maybe the question is not “why on earth BG and LB need to use” anyone, but rather – how did Epstein managed to insert himself in between MIT and potential donors? In the corridors of power, one can encounter all sorts of strange creatures…

        1. Procopius

          This is the best question I’ve seen yet. We still do not know where Epstein’s money came from. There is no suggestion that we might ever know. How did a person without a college diploma get hired to teach math and physics at the Dalton School. Donald Barr “thought he showed promise,” but how did he meet Epstein in the first place? So many questions.

  19. rd

    “Economics can’t explain why inequality decreases”

    They left out financial collapses in their list – not physically violent, but certainly financially violent. Wars are very efficient at leveling wealth in countries (Germany 1920s and 1940s are good examples), but financial collapses are also very efficient.

    In the US, there were rolling depressions and financial panics after the Gilded Age for a couple of decades. They played a major role in preventing too much concentration of wealth as the speculators and financiers would lose everything if their accounts got too leveraged.

    The same thing happened in the 1930s. After the 1920s boom and rising inequality, the bottom fell out for the working class with 25% unemployment but many of the wealthy joined the ranks of the unemployed as their financial wealth collapsed due to excessive leverage. That meant low levels of inequality at the start of the great economic boom of the 1950s onward.

    This was the big flaw in the post-2008 recovery. The entire system was re-focused on maintaining the wealth of the wealthy and so inequality has grown in the US. Trickle-down economics from tax cuts has been bad enough, but when you add in the impact of trickle-down financial system stabilization then the inequality continues to grow on steroids.

    A good example is the current student loan forgiveness program for people who work in public service and pay their loans without fail for 10 years., The rules are written in such a Byzantine manner that both the original program and the repair to the program have 99%+ rejection rates. If this was a program for the wealthy and financial corporations, Treasury, the Fed, and Congress would be burning the midnight oil to make it work.

    1. eg

      Also, those who think that were one to break out that it’s only the second haven’t been paying attention …

  20. Jerry B

    Lambert–Lot of good Links this morning! BTW I think that Stoller thread about Uber is so good it should be in Water Cooler as well.

    A comment from from Stoller’s Thread-

    “Its also important to point out that West is the brother in law of @KamalaHarris. This dynamic raises questions about her influence in CA politics and alternately whether her presidential campaign is worried that her connection to West could become an albatross – it should”

    So people get all up in arms over Trump’s conflicts of interest and connections with his “family” business dealings during his presidency, but that Uber’s Chief Legal Officer is Tony West who is the brother-in-law of Senator and Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris seems to be no big deal.

    Personally, while I believe conflicts of interest, nepotism, etc. are wrong, it seems to be the way the world works everywhere in the world and has been going on for maybe centuries.

    Humans are going to be humans i.e. imperfect and fallible. Some solutions would be to have a strict moral or religious code which is what I and other romanticize the US being like in the 1950’s. Books like Stephanie Coontz’s The Way We Never Were seem to suggest that the 1950’s were not as golly gee whiz as the TV shows portrayed them.

    Another solution would be a strong government or Governing the Commons (Elinor Ostrom) structure, rule of law, and regulations to enforce and punish violations of laws, moral codes, ethic violations, etc. But what has changed in the last 50 years is the amount of money, wealth, and power in the world held by individuals, and that money and wealth can buy a lot of influence. See Steve H.’s comment above.

    This all is just the continuing saga described in books such as C.Wright Mills the Power Elite and the multiple editions of William Domhoff’s Who Rules America or essentially Feudalism 101 which goes back to the Roman Empire and the times of Kings and peasants.

    The only way this changes is a serious revolution/blood in the streets. The idea of a revolution tends to favor Sanders or Warren as President. However, I believe Warren is a policy wonk and is less revolutionary than Sanders and would be better in a cabinet position.

    What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but “who is sitting in” — and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change – Howard Zinn

  21. Wukchumni

    Interesting story on Sequoias succumbing to climate driven wildfires…

    I prefer Giant Sequoia groves to coastal Sequoia groves, as the trees here are more like bullies in that their expansive canopies way up high tend to discourage lesser trees from barging in on their turf, much more wide open. a 20 foot wide tree @ eye level on the ground @ the base, has a 50 foot wide branch circumference overhead.

    Whereas with coastal redwoods, you’re always traipsing through a rainforest’y underfoot on account of all the fog, lots of action going on everywhere, you almost feel guilty with every step you take, knowing you’re crushing something.

  22. Wukchumni

    Lawsuits. Possible bankruptcy. Declining numbers. Is there a future for the Boy Scouts?

    FD: Was a Cub Scout circa 1970, flunked out before becoming a Webelo. Being in any kind of uniform @ that juncture wasn’t cool @ the height of the anti-Vietnam war protests, I sensed it as a 9 year old.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      My Cub Scout Den Mother was my neighbors father, who frequently seemed to need to make sure my underwear was always adjusted just right.
      I dropped out. No permanent damage…except perhaps to my opinions of authority of any kind.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Webelo badge was awarded here due solely to parental pressure to complete the required projects. But did learn the Cub Scout motto, “Be Prepared!” Never was entirely clear about what exactly one needs to be prepared for, but perhaps that remains irrelevant.

      1. Procopius

        Never was entirely clear about what exactly one needs to be prepared for,…

        Check Tom Lehrer’s song of that name (“Be Prepared”) on YouTube. Although, now that I think of it, the song is about the Boy Scouts, not the Cub Scouts. Glad that Lehrer has not been enforcing his copyright rights.

  23. Grant

    “The Future of Capitalism”

    From the article, “Inequality between nations has diminished with the rise of China, India and other nations that have turned to capitalism and free markets”

    How can anyone call China a free market economy? There is a difference between decentralized reforms and using markets, and an actual free market, especially as neoclassical economists would define a free market. All land, lakes, rivers are still publicly owned, although there has been quasi-privatization (which the populations have often fought hard against, since it often involves turning over public and cooperatively managed land to private developers). State owned enterprises were always a large chunk of the economy, have grown since the crash, and in some areas are dominant. Locally owned public enterprises, like township village enterprises, are still present and active. The social economy, a cooperative type of ecosystem, has grown and is very strong. A good chunk of the infrastructure that China uses was actually built during the Maoist period. There are still strong controls on private industry, with pretty continuous conflicts between the state and private industry over things like price controls. It still employs strong capital controls and still employs economic planning far beyond anything we have in the US. The state is central in investing in rural areas, and has worked to create a “socialist countryside” in recent years, increased funding for a basic public pension system and it has plans to move millions of people from rural to urban areas. That has required it to do massive investments in public housing and infrastructure. And there are lots of other examples. The data shows that the majority of worldwide poverty reduction has happened in China, and it has happened in THAT context. A decent amount of the rest of the poverty reduction can be traced back to China now importing so much from other developing and underdeveloped countries. Maybe people can argue that it is state capitalism, Lenin might have argued that, but it sure as hell is not a free market.

    It can certainly be argued that market forces and capitalists in China have much more freedom and power now than they did from 1949 to 1976, but if Bernie Sanders is called a socialist by many in the US and identifies with democratic socialism, then how is China capitalist? Let’s have a uniform definition, seems that the semantics change depending on the argument with some people. In the American context, if a politician offered up a program that is exactly what China’s economy and society is now, I seriously doubt anyone in power, in the two parties or the media would call it either capitalism or a free market.

    I still have not seen anyone that can show me how capitalism survives the environmental crisis if we want to survive. If we are serious about dealing with, or at least mitigating, the environmental crisis, how could that possibly happen within a capitalist framework? If anyone knows of someone that created a model that is at least somewhat connected to objective reality about how such a thing could possibly work, pass it on. Seems that what is needed is so radically different than even social democratic capitalism that it could not be called capitalism.

  24. barrisj

    Re: the sacking of John Bolton…it does appear that both Mr Kim and Iranian president Rohani played on Trump’s “peace” aspirations by each stating that no way would either of them nor their respective governments enter into any substantive talks if Notlob Bolton is at the table. Have to believe Trump bought into their objections and hastened “The ‘Stache’s” departure, no doubt getting some pushback from the usual parties favoring “maximum pressure”, whatever, but — in his usual “I’m the Boss, so sod the rest of youse” posture — he pulled the trigger regardless. Points for that, surely.

  25. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the link to the Reuters article about Trump’s repeated calls for the Fed to impose negative interest rates. Negative interest rates imposed on savers are essentially a tax to subsidize borrowers, many of whom are “zombie companies” and speculators that are unable to service their debt from their operating cash flows. Coupled with the economic effects of Trump’s tariffs which are essentially a VAT on American consumers and farmers, together with Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations after years of near zero rates that were used along with increased debt to fund or subsidize trillions of dollars in corporate stock buybacks and private equity leveraged buyouts, these policies primarily benefit insiders, Wall Street and a small segment of the population by driving up stock and bond prices. Thus, this would serve to further enrich them and increase wealth, economic and political inequality.

    What has occurred in Europe and Japan has shown that it is also very difficult to extricate an economy from negative interest rates after such a policy is adopted. As Richard Koo stated in an article linked here yesterday, negative interest rates are ineffective in stimulating real economic growth by increasing demand, and are like “pushing on a string”. They are in fact deflationary due to their suppression of net interest income, while reductions in the borrowing rates for households from this policy have been minimal, as has been abundantly shown in the EU.

    Instead of taxing savings, taxes should be imposed or increased on speculative short-term stock trading, corporate stock buybacks and leveraged buyouts, short-term capital gains, and other nonproductive speculative trading in financial assets and real estate, and those monies instead redirected into productive economic and social purposes. Further, the Glass-Steagall Act should be reinstated to shield the nation’s bank depositors and payments system from the risk of losses due to the massive speculations funded with debt that have in the past so damaged so many Americans.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Nice article about how the debt service savings for debtors is much less than the loss of income for savers.

      As the CEO of Deutsche Bank said last week, “negative interest rates destroy the financial system”.

      Nearing the event horizon of the black hole of finance. Even light can’t escape the gravity of a black hole. Prepare accordingly: I suggest a bottle of Martell cognac, original B&W footage of Dave Brubeck and his combo playing on YouTube, and a nice and frisky dance partner

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Age is possibly a factor.

        When you are retired, and living (partly or entirely) on CD’s, your perspective is different from that of someone younger who is working and has to borrow to buy a house.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes but it’s not just Grandma who needs a little income, pensions and insurers depend on it or else their entire model completely falls over.

          But I have a theory that the word “retirement” will gradually disappear from the language. We had a brief flirtation with the concept after WW1/2 with cheap energy and resources and a manageable population. That’s now over.

      2. ewmayer

        “Negative interest rates destroy the financial system” — A funny claim that, given that for nearly a full decade starting in 2008 most of the western world was treated to negative real (nominal minus inflation) rates, one of whose aims was to help recapitalize the busted banks at the expense of savers. After all, those near-zero nominal rates were what banks were *paying* on deposits, while collecting a much-higher interest rate on their own reserve deposits at the Fed, and while making loans at rates which I assure you did not threaten to go negative.

        I’m not disagreeing persistent negative real rates screwing up the economy by rewarding speculators and encouraging desperate yield chasing by investors (e.g. the current junk bond bubble), I just find it amusing to hear a *banker*, moreover the CEO of one of the biggest fraud-bancorps going, in essence complaining about being bailed out at the expense of savers.

    2. eg

      I believe we are witnessing the death of monetary policy and a rightful return of the primacy of fiscal policy.

      Perhaps we will also see a return to capital controls and credit guidance …

  26. JBird4049

    ICE Fails To Properly Redact Document, Reveals Location Of Future ‘Urban Warfare’ Training Facility

    It is nice seeing the American Empire thinking ahead by giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement better training facilities to go along with its work camps. Work does make one free after all.

    Does anyone know if the Chicago Police Department still runs the Homan Square Interrogation Facility?

  27. ewmayer

    “The iconic Wall Street Charging Bull statue in New York was vandalized by a man with an object resembling a banjo…” — A ‘banjo-like instrument’ seems a poor choice if one is looking to, say, castrate El Toro like the hacktivists did in Mr. Robot.

    Aside: My sister’s first few gigs out of college were in finance, starting with the NY office of Merrill Lynch. While she was there ML sponsored an in-house “name the bull” contest … this was in the several years following the Boesky/Milken scandal, her submission was a thusly-inspired one of “Ivan Bullsky”.

  28. ewmayer

    “A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked[/url] | The Atlantic” – Oddly, the webpage header for this article carries the rather different title “Does Free Will Exist? Neuroscience Can’t Disprove It Yet.”

    And interestingly, the term Bereitschaftspotential still works perfectly well for the new “random ebb and flow” paradigm. Instead of describing some kind of involuntary decision-making process, it can simply be take to refer to, paraphrasing the article, one’s motor system happening to be close to a threshold for movement initiation based, in the absence of external stimuli, on the random ebb and flow of brain activity.

  29. barrisj

    In addition to the myriad of MAX recertification problems facing Boeing, there is the recent example of a 777X failing a “stress-test” when a cargo door blew open:
    Now, the USAF is refusing to allow cargo and passengers to be transported by the KC-46 tanker aircraft, which has been hobbled by crapification problems from the kickoff:

    Not to despair though, as Boeing won yet another anti-union ruling by the NLRB over an attempt of unionization of a portion of the Charleston SC plant, so there’s that:

    And Dennis Muilenburg still has a jawb.

    1. JBird4049

      Let’s see. The F-35 fighter, the 737Max Passenger, and the KC-46 tanker, the Gerald Ford class super carrier, the latest any class of navy ships, the latest Apple products, the entire college system of California, PG&E…

      And the beat(ings) goes on. And on.

      1. JBird4049

        And I expect California’s statewide water infrastructure to fail somewhere during the next rainy season. Half the state is either a desert or semi arid with three months of winter rains and flooding and nine months, if not years, of bone dry nothingness.

        I have been seeing complaints about the lack of proper maintenance of the upteen canals, dams, pumps and reservoirs for several decades. Not to mention the electrical grid. If California can’t successfully build high speed rail, what is the rest of the state’s infrastructure like?

        Nearly forty million people and the eighth largest economy on the planet. More money than God and somehow things just get worse in the Golden State.

        I just have to ask if the people supposedly in charge trying to destabilize everything? Do they have some sort of death wish?

        1. Wukchumni

          California seemed to do just fine last year with a breathtaking amount of snow & rain and not much flooding, why would the next winter be the one where the infrastructure breaks?

          1. JBird4049

            Honestly? It’s a gut feeling although that is extremely unscientific. It could easily be me just being melodramatic. It just seems like we’re being told everything is just fine.

            Yes, nothing to see here. Then Paradise goes away and we find that PG&E is even more ramshackle then was known. Then there is the mess that’s the high speed rail and the multi decade saga of replacing the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

            I remember the storms and floods of the 1980s. Fun times. The Bay Area has not anything quite like them since. Rare events. Until they are not. What with the increasing temperatures the extremes are likely to be greater. Are the state’s waterworks truly well maintained or is it like so much else? Perhaps ramshackle, held together by duct tape, apathy, greed, and chance? Who knows and who can we trust to tell us the truth?

            1. Wukchumni

              I have no issue with fear mongering, but how do you get out of bed every day to face the potential of calamity?

  30. Plenue

    >Fireman Sam axed as brigade mascot for not being inclusive BBC

    Literally making the world dumber and worse, in the name of…what, exactly? How about giving the excluded decent jobs and schools, or stop over policing them? I’m pretty sure they care about issues like that a lot more than whether some kids mascot looks like them or not.

    1. JBird4049

      Isn’t that the point? All —-isms are more important than jobs and homes you, you —-ist!


      The very real racism, homophobia, sexism and so on are the curtains that hides the destitute.

  31. notabanktoadie

    re “Trump’s call for negative rates threatens savers”

    Individual citizens should be exempt from negative interest up to a reasonable account limit – as a natural right of citizenship and as a means for citizens to escape poverty.

    Otoh, large and non-individual citizen accounts should have no such exemption from negative interest.

    But how to shield citizens from negative interest while levying it on banks and other depository institutions? Since they might simply pass on the negative interest to poor depositors?

    The answer is debit/checking accounts for all citizens at the Central Bank itself that are exempt from negative interest up to a reasonable account limit.

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