Links 9/14/19

On a wing and a player: hopes webcam can save endangered albatross Guardian (MGL). From the beginning of the year but still a heartening story.

Yak loose in Virginia after escaping transport to the butchers BBC

Person Honors The Dog Heroes Of 9/11 That Are Often Overlooked In A Beautifully Sad Twitter Thread Bored Panda

Study Finds the Universe Might Be 2 Billion Years Younger Associated Press

Climate change: Electrical industry’s ‘dirty secret’ boosts warming BBC

Taxing Short, Cheap Flights Makes a Lot of Sense Bloomberg

Climate Change Will Create 1.5 Billion Migrants by 2050 and We Have No Idea Where They’ll Go Motherboard

The Truth About Faster Internet: It’s Not Worth It Wall Street Journal. So if you had any doubts, this should settle them. 5G is for planned obsolescence and better snooping. Get this:

Our users spent an evening streaming up to seven services simultaneously, including on-demand services like Netflix and live-TV services like Sling TV. We monitored the results.

Peter Loftus, one of our panelists, lives outside Philadelphia and is a Comcast customer with a speed package of 150 megabits a second.

Peter’s median usage over 35 viewing minutes was 6.9 Mbps, 5% of the capacity he pays for. For the portion when all seven of his streams were going at once, he averaged 8.1 Mbps.

For a point of reference, 6.9 MBPS is the sort of speed you get with DSL over copper.

The First Report of 5G Injury from Switzerland Physicians for Safe Technology (RR)

Vaping Lung Illness Causes: Study Sheds Light on Vitamin E Theory Rolling Stone (UserFriendly)


Hong Kong protesters plan shopping mall sit-ins after hill-top human chains Reuters

Hong Kong property tycoons in Beijing’s crosshairs Asia Times

EU finance ministers plan energy tax to combat climate change DW


Johnson plans to force Brexit deal in 10-day blitz Financial Times. Help me. The 10 day blitz is with Parliament, which is the easier part. The headline presupposed a new deal with the EU. There’s been talk of throwing the DUP under the bus and going with the “sea border” but as Clive has pointed out, that’s not trivial from a “And how exactly do we do this?” perspective. See Richard North below for a sanity check.

Brexit: agendas galore Richard North

It seems a no-deal Brexit is going to happen, Finland’s Prime Minister says CNBC

Venezuela’s Guaidó pictured with members of Colombian gang Guardian (Kevin W, with another report from Chuck L)


Fire at Aramco facility: Report Gulf News (resilc)

Huge fires at Saudi Aramco oil facilities after alleged drone attacks (VIDEOS) RT

California academics condemn detention of Birzeit professor Mondoweiss

The Toxic Trash That Is Poisoning the West Bank New York Times (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Alabama Tracking Students’ Locations To Penalize Them For Leaving Games Early New York Times. In most of the world, porn has promoted bleeding edge tech adoption. In the South, it’s football.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Latest Russian spy story looks like another elaborate media deception Matt Taibbi (J-LS)

Trump Transition

Trump blames LED lightbulbs for making him look orange Boing Boing (UserFriendly)

Health Care

Carcinogens Have Infiltrated the Generic Drug Supply in the U.S. Bloomberg. We warned about the dependence on uninspected foreign providers, particularly in China, more than a year ago.

Medicare for All Would Cut Poverty by Over 20 Percent Jacobin (furzy)

We Asked Prosecutors if Health Insurance Companies Care About Fraud. They Laughed at Us. ProPublica. UserFriendly: “Don’t you just love how effective markets are at maximizing efficiency?”


Joe Biden Should Drop Out Rolling Stone (resilc). Na ga happen. He didn’t listen to Obama effectively telling him not to run….But this is an interesting theory of failure. Biden was assumed to have solid black support despite his history on bussing. Twitter would suggest that’s crumbling, but I’m not sure how fast the debate gaffes are propagating to mainstream voters.

Warren says her tax plan asks just ‘two cents’ of the super-rich. But how much of a hit would Gates, Walton and their peers actually take? Washington Post. UserFriendly: “This is what is wrong with Warren. This clusterfuck oligarchy isn’t anyone’s fault. They just accidentally became billionaires by breaking the middle class.”

L’affaire Epstein

Girls who appeared to be 11 to 12 seen with Jeffrey Epstein getting off his plane in 2018 as authorities eyed his travel abroad CNBC

Harvard Officials Say $8.9 Million Donation From Jeffrey Epstein Was From Brief Recovery Period When He Wasn’t A Pedophile The Onion (Chuck L)

Big Tech emails called for in US antitrust probe Financial Times (David L). This is gonna be FUN!

Government Orders Google: Let Employees Speak Out Wall Street Journal

Google To Pay $1 Billion in France To Settle Fiscal Fraud Probe Reuters

These States Are Pushing Laws to Restrict Protests on College Campuses Teen Vogue (Scott W)

PG&E Agrees To Pay $11 Billion Insurance Settlement Over California Wildfires NPR (David L)

WeWork has become poster child for everything wrong with tech unicorns CNN (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers Business Insider (Big Tap). Don’t shop Whole Foods. Don’t use Amazon unless you are in a serious retail desert, and then do your best to keep it to the minimum.

American Renewal: The Real Conflict Is Not Racial Or Sexual, It’s Between The Ascendant Rich Elites Daily Caller. UserFriendly: “Since when does the Daily Caller get things absolutely spot on?” Moi: This is a must read, believe it or nor.

Felicity Huffman Sentenced to 14 Days Behind Bars in College Admissions ScandalNew York Times. Resilc: “14 years if poor and or black.”

NY AG uncovers $1 billion in Sackler family wire transfers amid opioid probe: report The Hill. Wowsers. They need to fry.

Taco Bell customer who was treating homeless group to meals says she was kicked out of restaurant Fox News (Kevin W)

California church leaders ‘used homeless as forced labour’ BBC (David L)

How Tech Firms Like Uber Hide Behind the ‘Platform Defense’ Wired (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour. Meeps: “If you pour a lizard a libation…”

lizard links

And a bonus from guurst:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Person Honors The Dog Heroes Of 9/11 That Are Often Overlooked In A Beautifully Sad Twitter Thread”

    I recognized the name of the last 9/11 dog that survived, Bretagne. On her last trip to the vet’s office when her time came, she received an honour guard from firefighters for that last walk. She went out as a hero-

  2. dearieme

    So the only Dem candidate worth a hoot, La Gabbard, has been excluded for being worth a hoot. I return to my old song: Trump should offer her his VP spot.

    I admit I may be biased: I don’t much like the cut of Pence’s jib.

    (Nor did I like the cut of Kavanaugh’s jib, though he had to be appointed because that attack on him was obviously fraudulent.)

    1. John

      Kavanaugh? The charges asserted unproveable thus unproven, but “obviously fraudulent” is in the eye of the beholder.
      Gabbard for VP? Obviously, but President Sanders VP, obviously.

  3. Steve H.

    > American Renewal: The Real Conflict Is Not Racial Or Sexual, It’s Between The Ascendant Rich Elites

    The link was so ad-laden is hucked my computer, and was impervious to

    Alternative source:

    1. Lee

      Thanks for the link.

      Who responds to ads that badger you for your attention and thus interfere with comprehension of content? I have trouble imagining such a person. Perhaps ad induced attention deficit is the primary purpose of this practice. Or am I being a bit paranoid?

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        Spot on Lee, information overload is very much desired because it casts doubt and confusion without crtical thinking being applied

      2. notabanker

        Not paranoid, just silly. It’s not about the ads being effective sales tools, it’s about the bots being able to claim they are effective to justify the rates. Obviously the more outrageous, the higher the likelihood of, well, being able to charge more for them.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Nobody responds to those ads. But people do click on them by accident while trying to remove them from view so they can continue reading. Then the ad agency can claim to the advertiser that they garnered a high click through rate for the ad, thus justifying higher rates for their ads, even though the vast majority of clicks were by accident. Ain’t capitalism great?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The payment model is not click through. It’s CPM ($ per thousand impressions). But if the clicks are super low relative to norms (whatever they are) the site is downranked as an ad venue.

          Of course, the most horrible ads have really high CPM.

          1. flora

            my opinion: the most horrible ads are the most emotionally manipulative… and not in the most obvious ways.

            Segueing to the thought: focusing on ones feelings instead of ones thoughts is the road to perdition. “They” do not want you or me to think. Feel, yes; think, no. My 2 cents. (Not connected to Warren’s 2 cents. heh)

    2. Dan

      Steve, I too use Firefox.
      I never saw even one ad.

      “As {Big Tech}push into fields such as entertainment, space travel, finance and autonomous vehicles, they have become, as technology analyst Izabella Kaminska notes, the modern-day “free market” equivalents of the Soviet planners who operated Gosplan, allocating billions for their own subjective priorities. ”

      Instead of Soviet Five Year Plans, we have “Democratically elected” presidents on the Four Year Plan.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Thanks. You want us and other sites with content to die. How kind of you. Do you also expect restaurants to serve you for free?

        Seriously, if I could block readers like you, I would. You pretend to be interested in left wing ideas but are happy to screw workers so as not to suffer minor inconvenience.

        And don’t tell me you object to the ad trackers for security reasons. That is bullshit. The base level surveillance you accept by virtue of having a smartphone or tablet (which I pretty much guarantee you have), starting with being GPS located all the time, greatly exceeds the itty bitty increment of ad trackers.

        1. flora

          Oh dear. I guess I must now consider myself blocked, even thought I’ve sent donations during past fund raisers. Things change.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You aren’t blocked but I am very disappointed that you have not whitelisted this site. We stress every fundraiser that we leave a lot of ad money on the table by rejecting the intrusive ads, such as popups and all video ads, and we repeatedly exhort readers to whitelist us.

            I don’t understand why readers who say they support our work and even give in the fundraiser don’t whitelist us. It isn’t just the incremental ad revenue. Advertisers look at the level of adblockers on a site specific basis. Too high will wind up leading a site to be excluded from ad campaigns.

            More generally, I have difficulty fathoming readers being unhappy about the captured state of the media and then running adblockers. Starved outlets can afford only to act as official stenographers. They lack the resources to do anything more.

            1. Janie

              I must be living in another world; I was unaware of whitelisting until now, when I looked it up. Maybe publicizing how the uninformed and/or thoughtless among us can help???

            2. barefoot charley

              Yves, as another guilty donor-whitelister, I can explain that ads make text jump and twitch, repeatedly, making reading difficult and unpleasant even on your clean website. I’ve rationalized that I pay for the right to ad-block with regular donations, but I appreciate your explanation of how my eyeballs are insufficiently monetized on your behalf when I create a more relaxing read. A deeper dive into the insights of this thread . . .

  4. timbers

    2008 – 2016: – “Obama says the rich should pay a little more…”

    2019: – The Massachusetts senator said “two cents” no fewer than 16 times Tuesday night in pitching her wealth tax to a crowd of cheering Texans.

    Hillary was promoted as the ultimate wonk incrementalist perfect for the job of President. But I never saw a bit of incrementalism in her, only a rabid rush to war on every front possible to her and no interest at all in fixing problems – incrementally or otherwise. Plus, far from fixing things she’d make them worse…all part of her “I have a public position and a private position” thingy..

    Warren I can see incrementalism in her with this and other of her proposals, but I couldn’t care less. Way past that. My thinking is more along the lines of that Nike line “Just do it.”

  5. dcblogger

    I did not watch the debate and have not followed the discussion, but Bernie looks very relaxed and happy in this interview w/ Cenk

    right now the only numbers that matter are the number of people in Iowa, NH, SC, and Neveda who have committed to caucus/vote for him. After Iowa the whole debate will shift depending upon who the top 3 are. Bernie and mebbe 4 other people know what those numbers are, but those are the only numbers which matter.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Taxing Short, Cheap Flights Makes a Lot of Sense”

    Of course it does. It is Bloomberg after all. Exempt then by that standard would be those essential trips to places like Nice, the Bahamas, Oman, Montenegro, Paris and other such necessities of travel.
    If you suggested taxing flights by the length of that trip, then you would have Bloomberg coming out to say that the freedom to travel is a constitutional right. Otherwise you are talking about socialism.

    1. John

      Does anyone ranting “socialism” actually have a clue as to what socialism was? I think not. It is a handy club, a useful scare word in their universe, with which to rouse those besotted with some vague idea of capitalism and conflating that with green fields, sunny days, and waving flags.

      You want capitalism in its unvarnished form: Purdu Pharma; surprise medical bills; $300 a dose insulin; the husks left behind by private equity.

      From the end of WW II to the early 1970s we had capitalism, but it was tempered by regulation, a sort of social democracy. Was it perfect? Of course not, but it made possible a rising standard of living for many, perhaps the majority, and a more equitable income distribution than has existed since.

      There exist those to whom that degree of equity is infuriating; they feel ill done by being prevented from exercising there more predatory instincts and they have succeeded in creating the present.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It has been said that the biggest socialistic organization in America at present is the US military because it provides its members with free food, clothing, accommodation, health & dental, education, teachers, training and a guaranteed pension at the end of their time for life as well as health services. Damn commies!!

        1. Copeland

          Don’t forget vision. That’s what my niece does for the US military, and to aquire that training and career is the only reason she enlisted… pretty sweet gig.

      2. Ignim Brites

        The legacy media, AOC and Senator Sanders certainly made a mistake of calling their movement socialism. And for what? The frisson of thinking of themselves as revolutionaries. This is even worse than the infantile delusion that Lenin so aptly castigated. It is deridable sophmoric aggrandizement. Worse yet, it is historically unconscious, unwoke if you prefer. Senator Sanders sentiments might be justifiably oriented but the San Francisco democrats, imbued with the discipline of decades of power, not to mention Harry Bridges’ labor based radicalism, are going to grind him into the ground. Already they have in Klobuchar their alternative if Biden falters.

        1. pretzelattack

          they’re going to try to grind him into the ground whatever he calls himself. they hate his policies, and they hate him. and they are going to have a series of alternatives when biden falters. i don’t care if conservatives, whether they call themselves progressives or not, call a new deal democrat socialist–they’ve been doing that since the new deal.

        2. Plenue

          Yeah, I’m not really interested in accusations of other people being “infantile and delusional” from Lenin. How’d that worldwide workers revolution work out for you, you wannabe dictator?

          1. witters

            “How’d that worldwide workers revolution work out for you, you wannabe dictator?”

            Gave us the Keynesian Long Boom my dear chap.

      3. notabanker

        You want capitalism in its unvarnished form: Purdu Pharma; surprise medical bills; $300 a dose insulin; the husks left behind by private equity.

        Oh no, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong. Those are the actions of a rogue few and as soon as we can find the dolts that failed to inform the C-Suite leaders of these egregious acts, they will be punished accordingly. And the punishments must be swift and severe lest we risk moral hazard.

    2. Tom Doak

      You’re missing the bigger oicture here: contrast the idea of taxing short discount flights for the masses with the hige cutout tax break for private jets – which are taxed to the wealrhy based on the cost of a comparable first class ticket, rather than at the 10x more basis of the actual cost to operate a private jet.

      Next they’ll be taxing Uber, but not limousines.

      1. Donna

        I remember some time in the mid 60s to mid 70s my mother had a lidless cookie jar in which she stuffed all her receipts for purchases made throughout the year. At income tax time all the sale taxes paid on those purchases were tallied up and deducted from income for income tax purposes. Then also she was able to deduct all the interest paid on her credit cards. Of course those were some of the first tax breaks rolled back. Socialism for the rich; capitalism for everyone else.

    3. ewmayer

      Just don’t tax our completely-necessary-to-save-humanity private jet flights to Davos and various climate change confabulations, dude!

    4. Ignacio

      This could well go to the previous thread on democracy and the observation by David that policymakers can do… nothing. Here we have another example of something that apparently “cannot be done” according to Bloomberg. Because, it says, the Chicago convention of 1944. Some Dutch consultant says it is “almost impossible to legally tax fligths based on fuel consumption”. Isn’t it time to change laws in ways that allow taking the sensible directions?

      If von der Leyen’s team is seriously considering this, they should find the legal way to do it. If there is not a legal way, just change the laws. The Chicago Convention looks inadequate for current needs.

  7. paul

    RE: Vaping Lung Illness Causes: Study Sheds Light on Vitamin E Theory
    …but not very much


    full disclosure: packed in the coffin nails after 25+ years thanks to e fags, a genuinely grass roots disruptor.

    I’ve been huffing on 2ml a day for 8 1/2 years and have not dropped dead once, just like millions of other users.

    Vaping is about harm reduction, not eradication.

    1. shtove

      Me too. For what it’s worth, the UK government’s assessment is that e-cigs are at least 95% safer than tobacco, and the UK caught on to vaping soon after the US and has found nothing like this. Karl Denninger has a few interesting posts on the practice, specifically his concern over the long term inhalation of propylene glycol, but this is likely a case of ignorance/negligence over the addition of lipids to the juice. This type of pneumonia was first diagnosed in 1925.

    2. tgs

      I smoked cigarettes for over 40 years. Began vaping in August 2017, hoping it would help cut down. I dual-used for nine months and am now cigarette free for almost a year and a half. I belong to an online vape community with hundreds of members with stories just like mine. I find it strange that the deaths and illnesses are occurring now mainly among teenagers who vape thc using cartridge systems. Most of us do not use vapes like the Juul and buy our eliquid through reputable outlets. The UK has a much more sane attitude about vaping as an important harm reduction method for smokers.

      The UK continues to lead the world in tobacco harm reduction, as two government-owned NHS hospitals open vape shops in collaboration with a major vendor. Patients at the hospitals will now be able to buy safer nicotine products and use them in on-site vaping areas. Unfortunately the USA is showing no such common sense, with a court case driven by extremists forcing the FDA to shorten the deadline for vape companies to spend millions of dollars on paperwork. Vape bans and misguided fightbacks against the mythical “teen vaping epidemic” also show no signs of easing up.

      Vape shops open in UK hospitals, but US clings to prohibitionism

      1. Duck1

        Note: not a vaper, but most of the vast array of mixtures I see on store shelves seem to be labeled with various flavors.

      2. paul

        That refers to diacetyl, which no sane supplier or user will touch. Standard fags contain higher levels and there has not been one case of popcorn lung attributed to them.

        1. Duck1

          For instance a quote from above link:

          Diacetyl is one cause of airway damage that might result in BO, but other flavoring chemicals may have the potential to cause BO or contribute to airway damage, including chemicals increasingly used as substitutes for diacetyl.

          Chemicals causing harm are known, but the science about which are not harmful when inhaled is less robust.

            1. pricklyone

              I am almost at 2 year mark of quitting cigs using vaping.

              “may have potential” does ALL the work in these kinds of reports.
              Go to the ECF forums and ask if anyone has been diagnosed with any new lung problems since they started.. Many there with 5 or more years heavy use.
              “Chemicals causing harm are known, but the science about which are not harmful when inhaled is less robust.”
              What kind of study do you do to prove a negative?
              We all heard the Diacetyl scare stories years ago, and the rebuttals and other studies never made the press. Most formulators quit using it, and it’s easy to avoid the “bakery” flavors if it worries you.
              These new scare stories are all based on users who used a cannabis product, and one sold on the street corner, not users of e-cigarettes.
              Even ArsTechnica, who have a long standing attack on vapers, had to admit:
              “The UPMC health system, which includes 40 hospitals, has seen at least 14 patients with vaping-linked illnesses. Several patients said they bought the black-market brand “Dank Vapes” products online.

              In California’s King County, health officials linked all seven cases in the county to “pop-up” shops selling marijuana vaping cartridges.

              “The patients had switched from regular retailers to the pop-up shops,” elaborated Nancy Gerking, the county’s assistant director of public health. The patients “found a difference between the potency of the products,” she added. “They had to use twice as much, so they were taking twice as much of the product into their lungs.”

              Some health officials have suggested that consumers stop using all vaping products until the culprit(s) are clearly identified. However, e-cigarette makers and other health experts have pushed back, noting that the issue is clearly with dubious products, not vaping generally.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I also smoked for about 25 years and tried eCigs to quit, but they didn’t do the trick for me although I did eventually quit and haven’t smoked tobacco for 5 + years. I genuinely like the flavor of tobacco, and if the naturally occurring nicotine didn’t make them addictive, I’d probably still be smoking. The eCigs had the negative affect of keeping you hooked on nicotine without any of the pleasurable affects of smoking. Sucking on a metal tube didn’t taste good at all, and how do you know when you’ve had enough? With a real cigarette, it goes out eventually (and rapidly if it contains a nasty burning agent) but with the eCigs I couldn’t tell whether I’d just smoked the equivalent nicotine of one cigarette or a pack of them. The inhalation sensation wasn’t the same either without the real smoke.

      That being said, it’s the real smoke that causes the health problems, not the nicotine. I really have a hard time believing eCigs are as or more dangerous than the real thing. So in that regard I do think they are beneficial as a way to quit smoking, which is how they were originally marketed.

      My main problem with vaping is the stupid phenomenon it has become since. You’re going to smoke a bunch of raspberry or whatever flavored oil to get the nice flavor, but lace it with nicotine so you can get addicted? Why not just have a piece of gum and get the same pleasure without the addiction?

      It needs to be regulated so that it can be used for legitimate purposes without marketing it at kids. But then how’s a disruptor supposed to become a squillionaire?

      1. paul

        The only reason I use them is for the nicotine.
        Which has never been the problem.
        Young people do a lot of stupid stuff, most learn from it.
        I think they used to call it ‘growing up’

        1. wilroncanada

          Thank you all those who gave those heartfelt testimonials. I’m glad you were able to get off smoking cigarettes with the help of e-cigarettes. So, yes, the issue is harm reduction, not eradication. But that misses the second half, the introduction to smoking for 7 or 8 to 18 year-olds. They are a perfect target market for producers; the whole get-em while they’re young play. I don’t think the seduction of chemical flavours i for veteran smokers trying to quit or reduce their habits.
          And Paul, you can joke about young people doing stupid stuff, but young people being seduced with brainwash advertising into doing stupid stuff puts a little more onus on the seducers.

  8. BobW

    I wonder why marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug in the US. That is for drugs with no medical applications, and there are a number of states that allow such use of THC now. (Cough, cough, asking for a friend.) :-/

    1. John Zelnicker

      September 14, 2019 at 8:35 am

      Marijuana is still Schedule 1 because the FDA and Congress are still trying to figure out how to give total control of the production and marketing to Big Pharma.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The standard line on Schedule 1 drugs is inaccurate. Marijuana is not the only example.

      GHB is Schedule 1, and there’s a drug that costs ~ $250 a month to treat narcolepsy that is GHB.

      It is also illegal to consume a Schedule 1 drug in any quantity when GHB occurs naturally in small amounts in beef.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Hong Kong property tycoons in Beijing’s crosshairs”

    If I was the sort of person that is suspicious by nature, I would be suspecting that these property tycoons might be providing the funding for a lot of those protestors on the sly in a campaign to weaken the central government in Hong Kong which would take the pressure off of them. Luckily I’m not.

    1. Carolinian

      I think you may be onto something. The article makes one wonder why housing reform isn’t among the protestors’ oddly substance-less five demands. Some of us puzzle over what the protestors are so upset about but living in an apartment “the size of a prison cell” could be one of them (in fairness some NYC apartments might also fit that description).

      1. Olga

        I saw the article a couple of days ago, and the obvious thought was that it confirmed the idea that protests have been inspired by economic concerns rather than some vague notions of “more democracy.” In that way, they are “organic.” But the five demands do not address housing/jobs/education issues that many young HK-ers no doubt experience. It’s that disconnect between the (understandable) impetus for the protests and the proposed “solutions” that give one pause as to what is really going on in HK. Ironically, HK’s economy is the legacy of that wonderful British rule – colonial rule. One has to wonder what kind of history lessons were consumed by those waving union jack in HK streets.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I saw that guy Joshua Wong last night on TV and he is now in the US – at the invitation of Marco Rubio whom Wong thanked. I guess that Rubio is taking a break from trying to stir revolution in Venezuela.

    2. earlofhuntingdon

      As with being an oligarch in Russia, one does not become or remain a property tycoon in Hong Kong without having nourished a good relationship with Beijing.

      1. Olga

        Reading the article, one finds this: “The billionaire used to visit Zhongnanhai regularly during Deng Xiaoping’s rule, as well as the presidency of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. But he has been shunned by Xi Jinping, who has not met Li one-on-one, and Li’s property arm has not bought land north of the border since 2012, the year Xi came into power.”
        All good things come to an end…

  10. Jessica

    “American Renewal: The Real Conflict Is Not Racial Or Sexual, It’s Between The Ascendant Rich Elites”
    The basic premise is quite correct: the real conflict is between the ascendant rich elites and the rest of us. Some of the details are not quite accurate.
    Although the analogy of our intelligentsia with the Clerisy is interesting, he omits the right-wing corporate portion of it. Yes, university professors are mostly liberal (though too often in a “love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal” kind of way), but the real power in universities is held by those who give out the grants, mostly corporations or the government that they control. Much of the mainstream media is owned by right-wing corporate interests. He also omits the role of think tanks, which play a key role in polluting intellectual discourage with corporatist propaganda.
    Our middle class is not and has not been yeomen since at least the mid-1800s. Yeomen owned their own land and did not need a job from anyone. Our middle class has and does.
    The analogy with the French Revolution is poor. In pre-revolutionary France, official status and political power were in one set of hands and much of the ascendant wealth in another set of hands. That is what drove France into revolution.
    In our case, the power and money are mostly concentrated in the same set of hands.

    1. Carolinian

      I read an interesting article that suggested the French revolution was actually a color revolution engineered by the British in revenge for helping the Americans. The Brits bought large amounts of French grain under their free trading system and then, when the French harvest failed, they refused to sell it back–the failed harvest being one of the triggers of the revolution.

      Of course if this fanciful theory is true then the twenty years of war that followed was surely not part of any plan. But then our US sponsored regime change operations always seem to lead to anarchy as well.

      1. dearieme

        The Brits bought large amounts of French grain … they refused to sell it back

        I suppose that makes sense if Britain at the time had had a Command Economy and huge government-owned silos for grain storage. As it didn’t it sounds just daft.

          1. Wukchumni

            Britain’s free trade agreement made France’s harboring of its grain in reserves “economically illegal” whereby Britain bought up all the French grain their population could eat and much more. When a devastating hailstorm hit France in June 1788 destroying the majority of crops an ongoing famine ensured and France’s king begged Britain for the chance to buy back some grain to feed the starving masses, to which Britain held a meeting and simply replied in the negative.

            This is a bit simplistic, and not mentioned in the article are the 2 Icelandic volcanoes that blew up real good in 1783-85, the fallout causing a series of bad harvests throughout the continent and elsewhere in the world, in the years to follow.

            The Laki eruption and its aftermath caused a drop in global temperatures, as 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide was spewed into the Northern Hemisphere. This caused crop failures in Europe and may have caused droughts in North Africa and India.


          2. dearieme

            It’s one of those silly things that uses “Britain” to mean different things in neighbouring sentences to conceal a weak argument.

            It’s a low but common trick. Consider “The Americans rounded up their Japanese citizens and sent them to concentration camps.” No: it wasn’t “The Americans” who did it, it was the result of an Executive Order and therefore it was FDR who had them rounded up. Or you might say that the USA did it. But what you can’t say in an intelligent discussion is that “The Americans” did it. One hundred and fifty million people (or whatever the population then was) were not guilty as charged.

            Then consider “The Americans stole the undefended property of those citizens”. Again it wasn’t “The Americans”, it was (I assume) some small criminal fraction of the population.

            So there you are: two bogus charges against “The Americans” just by using the term inaccurately. This is a common propaganda trick.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’d also offer the criticism that there are “real” conflicts around race and sex. We white folks have not really come to grips with our role in the former, and we’ve pretty much thrown out the old paradigm on the relationship between the sexes but a new one hasn’t gelled yet.

      The article is very valuable in providing yet more evidence that the paleos are seriously rethinking things. It now seems to be the prevailing view among them that capitalism in its 21st century manifestation is corrosive to the values they seek to preserve. The author of this article is as critical of “libertarians” (i.e. propertarians) as he is of lefties. Capitalism is no longer considered the ideal environment for the “good life” or the “good society” by more and more of these folks.

      We would be smart to do exactly what the liberals frantically warn against and think of ways that we might work with paleos on some issues. They might make better allies, at least in some contexts, than the libs.

    3. Musicismath

      I wasn’t especially convinced by the article’s large-scale historical analogy with the French Revolution; I thought it failed to hold together after the introduction; and like a lot of conservatives, the author wasn’t good on distinguishing between liberals and the left. And Jeremy Corbyn, “neo-Marxist”? Just No.

      But he does hit on some interesting points, especially to do with the apparent contradictions in the “elite progressive left.” Why do historically Blue cities (NY; SF) have such high rates of inequality and racial segregation? And why are universities that are dominated by “liberal” academics not straightforwardly liberal places in terms of their institutional politics? Confused liberal George Packer raises some of these same issues in next month’s Atlantic: When the Culture War Comes for the Kids.

      My own take is that there’s no actual contradiction: liberalism under capitalism produces the very conditions (inequality; exploitation; privilege) it pretends to deplore. But for a guy like Packer, there’s always someone else (an outsider) to blame for the bad outcomes. (In this case, Authoritarian leftists who practice identity politics.) For me, though, those dynamics come from the heart of liberalism itself, not from the outside, which is why liberalism always seems to be in the process of being betrayed from the point of view of its true believers.

      1. Olga

        I was going to say that ‘liberalism” was co-opted to become a fig leaf for the more brutal/rapacious side of capitalism (actually, is there any other?), but then I remembered history. Liberalism was likely never meant to be more than a polite justification for capitalist excesses.
        The force that could have taken on the obvious inequities was deliberately and methodically destroyed: in the US, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, through the war against reds and commies – which successfully eradicated any semblance of the left in the country. The radical left, that is, that had the language and analytical tools to understand what capitalism represented (and what it would become if left to its own devices). That war was very useful… since for many years after, most people in the US could not understand the cause and effect of the situation they increasingly found themselves in. Re-education is in order.

      2. VietnamVet

        By 1980s those who fought in WWI, saw the Red Scare of 1919 and lived through the Great Depression & WWII were out of power or dead. Lessons learned were forgotten. The neutering of government and rising inequality have the same source; human greed. Elite humans must be really scared to do the right thing and share their wealth. With 50% of Saudi oil cut off and more repeats likely, today is similar to 1914. Escalation or peace. Amity requires cooperation.

      3. Old Jake

        The classic liberal class arose with the bourgeoisie, and should be identified with that component of the power structure. Conservatism is always the defense of the current powers, regardless of who or what comprise that entity. It seems to me that they should not be seen as natural enemies, or even as different entities at all times. When power was held by the church and nobility, and the bourgeoisie was a new class which was developing as business owners in newly populous cities began to understand the power they could exert, they were at odds. In this day they are not.

  11. bassmule

    Sacklers: How will they squirm out of this one? I mean, they probably will.

    “While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct,” Ms. James said in a statement. “Records from one financial institution alone have shown approximately $1 billion in wire transfers between the Sacklers, entities they control, and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts,” she added.

    New York Uncovers $1 Billion in Sackler Family Wire Transfers

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      If there ever was a situation that called for civil forfeiture, I think this would be it.

      Seize it all and let the sacklers prove they should get it back.

      1. chuck roast

        Forget civil forfeiture. The Sacklers need to be prosecuted under the RICO law.
        How was this not an ongoing criminal family enterprise with the goal of profiting by addicting as many people as possible. The max for conviction on a single RICO charge is 20 years in the grey bar hotel.
        One attorney general needs to invoke a single RICO charge against this family. I know, they’ll never wind up in the can, but we can give the AG an A for effort.

  12. anon in so cal

    Re: Climate change:

    “What If We Stopped Pretending?

    The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.”

    By Jonathan Franzen September 8, 2019

    Franzen has been excoriated for writing this article, and the New Yorker denounced for publishing it.

    Only skimmed it, but the points seem to be along the lines of the arguments in “The Uninhabitable Earth.”
    Maybe I misunderstood both. (apologies if this has been posted already)

    1. Drake

      It may have been posted a few days ago, since it’s sitting in my Pocket queue and about half of what I save there for future reading comes from here. Had I known it was by Franzen (as opposed to someone who, you know, actually knows something about earth’s climate) I probably wouldn’t have bothered, especially given that even the experts hardly know anything worth knowing about earth’s climate. Why our elite intellectual class can’t restrict themselves to topics on which they’re experts, like the triviality and uselessness of being an elite intellectual parasite, is above my pay grade.

      1. chuck roast

        I tried reading a couple of books by Franzen, and it occurred to me that the fellow had a serious problem with basic logic. He made my head hurt.
        Has anyone else found this to be the case?

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I recently read his latest book of essays and “The Corrections”. I didn’t find any earth-shattering new takes in the essays, although I did enjoy a couple along the same vein as the one anon linked to above. I found the Corrections to be a good read, funny and cringe-inducing at times, but not a ‘great novel’. He’s often compared to DeLillo and Pynchon and I didn’t think he quite rose to their level. But then again, those authors don’t always rise to the level of their best works either.

          But I do agree with his point on the impending environmental catastrophe which Franzen believes is unstoppable. But even if we can’t stop it, that doesn’t mean we should stop behaving ourselves in regards to the world around us. He likens the need to believe we can fix things in order to get people to do something positive for the environment to fundamentalists who believe we need god in order to coerce people to behave morally. So plant a seed and feed a bird. It may not save the planet at this point, but it’s the right thing to do for your fellow living creatures.

          1. Drake

            What would a best work by Pynchon be? I’m currently nearing the end of my third slog (second full slog, I gave up early on the first one) through Gravity’s Rainbow and, while it has a few amusing incidents in its 700+ pages, I can’t think of a single reason I’d ever recommend it to another human being. It seems to me you could easily dispense with about 500 pages, and the remainder still wouldn’t make much sense.

            1. ambrit

              Consider it as the “Lord of the Rings” for those of us who live within the autism spectrum.
              A pretty good read by Pynchon would be “Against the Day.”

              1. lyman alpha blob

                That’s the one I’ve tried to slog through a few times, and I actually liked the beginning each time but couldn’t ever finish it. Good to hear the rest is a good read too.

              2. neighbor7

                You might give Vineland a try. I found it more easily accessible than some others but still rich with his rueful mischief.

            2. super extra

              Gravity’s Rainbow also bested me, but I enjoyed Inherent Vice a lot. The Crying of Lot 49 was tolerable, it’s short.

    2. anon in so cal

      124 degrees Fahrenheit in this city in Pakistan:

      “Jacobabad may well be the hottest city in Pakistan, in Asia and possibly in the world. Khosoo shakes his head in resignation. “Climate change. It’s the problem of our area. Gradually the temperatures are rising, and next year it will increase even more.”

      The week before I arrived in Jacobabad, the city had reached a scorching 51.1°C (124°F). Similar temperatures in Sahiwal, in a neighboring province, combined with a power outage, had killed eight babies in a hospital ICU when the air-conditioning cut out. Summer in Sindh province is no joke. People die….”

  13. Jason Boxman

    I have RCN and I’ve been happy with the service, but they dropped their lowest package, so I went through the song and dance to cancel, no one cared, and I canceled. Meanwhile, Comcast which I already had service with once wanted me to _go to a pay center_ to prove my identity. Fortunately, RCN came to its senses and offered me the cheaper speed package again.

    I told them repeatedly I’d pay for DSL speeds again if I could and it were cheaper. But of course they don’t offer that anymore, anywhere. I don’t stream and rarely download anything, so I’m probably an exception.

    1. ambrit

      Do not feel alone. There are many of us non-gigabyte consuming humans around. The companies are trying to force the ‘average’ consumer to pay more for less. Plain old greed.

  14. dearieme

    “to watch the endangered birds rear their chicks on a frigid peninsula at the bottom of the world.”

    The Otago peninsula is a lovely place to visit. Do go and see the albatrosses. Ignore this “frigid peninsula” rubbish. It’s cool there at the moment because it’s September in the Southern Hemisphere i.e. it’s just turning from Winter to Spring.

    The article is dated in mid January, so “frigid” is preposterous – it was the middle of Summer. We visited at that time of year: it was warm in sheltered spots under that very bright NZ sun. You’d expect it to be breezy so you’d need a wind cheater for the exposed spots.

    In other words it’s the Guardian’s customary way with facts.

  15. Dr. John Carpenter

    It seems to me the way to convince people of Biden’s mental fitness for the presidency would probably not be to act like Julian Castro took a cheap shot at someone with a known mental deficiency. It might help too if they could decide on what Biden actually said or meant, because if his supporters don’t even seem to know, how should anyone else? Oh, clutching your pearls and using the “I used to support ______ but not after this” line is probably more effective when you’re filling in the blank with a candidate who actually has support, not Julian Castro.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Aramco contains fire at oil sites after militia attack”

    I wonder how many more oil refinery fires the Saudis will tolerate before they declare “victory” in Yemen and start to pull out their forces? I bet that that shooting that you can hear in those videos was the Saudis trying to shoot down that drone wave. The drones themselves cost a few thousand but the destruction caused by those fires would have cost millions to repair – along with lost profits as part of that plant is now off-line. Some of those explosions were huge.
    There must be another factor nagging at the Saudis. At the moment they are gearing up for a massive IPO of Aramco to raise perhaps $100 billion. If the Yemenis keep on hitting those oil installations, you would think that eventually it would effect calculations for the market price for that IPO. You wonder what would happen if on the eve of the Saudi IPO, the Yemenis sent several hundred drones at the Saudi oil and water-filtration plants.

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      They may be declaring victory on their television broadcasts now. I think we have seen two black swans land. Several drones appear to have landed on the two largest oil fields at processing locations and they are on fire. Saudi reports the fires are out, but there are as many as 6 fires burning in one video from the scene, and there appear to be others behind the cloud of smoke. Daylight reports says they are still burning. 1/2 of oil production off line, perhaps even more gasoline production.
      2nd, If the story the Independent is true, Putin ordered Netenyahu to stand down from attacking Syria, Iraq and Lebanon by threatening to shoot down anything that tried. I note that no promised revenge attack occurred in the occupied territories by Israel from the alleged campaign attack near Gaza.
      Interesting how peace can break out so fast. I can’t imagine what is going on in the war room but I suspect Dr. Strangelove is about to speak.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Russians have had enough with Netanyahu’s antics to get himself re-elected by attacking every country within range of Israel thus risking region-wide war. This month alone the Russians have intercepted three Israeli attacks and ordered them to turn back or be shot out of the sky. The Israelis say that they are attacking “Iranians” in Syria but they have been attacking the Syrian forces who are gearing up to take back Idlib.

    2. Old Jake

      A week or more ago b at Moon of Alabama wrote that the earlier drone attack on the KSA was the point of inflection that defined the KSA’s having lost the war. I think we are seeing the progression of that fact.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The pervert in me gets a good belly laugh when I see yet another band of shepherds and guys in sandals resist and then defeat the much-vaunted armies of the world with their priceless gizmos.

        and now Yemen.

        I mean can they possibly even find a country that is more impoverished and poor than Yemen? Maybe we can have a war with South Sudan? A multi-million dollar Hawkeye missile “promoting democracy” by incinerating a destitute grandmother and her goat standing on a rocky plain next to a withered bush. Now there’s an image that summarizes our so-called “civilization”. I believe the history books will be most unkind.

  17. Jason Boxman

    I must be the only person that’s never set foot in a Whole Foods. Wait, that’s not true. When I was visiting Arlington, VA I stopped at one because it had a wine bar upstairs, which seemed a novelty.

    Was there some appeal to them?

    I have a local family owned grocery 8 minutes away that I usually shop at, and the farmer’s market during the summer. Or I go farther afield if I need something else. We have bFresh here which may be a regional chain.

    1. Olga

      Having first set foot in one in 1980 or 1981, I can tell you that the appeal was good, wholesome food. For someone coming from outside the US (and who was used to fresh, local food), the food sold in supermarkets back then was simply appalling. So called bread was inedible (and unrecognizable as bread). Same for many other items. At WFM, there was an emphasis on sourcing items that had no or few additives, were fresh, and did not come out of a box or can.
      But by mid-1980s, WFM was hijacked by yuppies (remember those) and became a status symbol. Mercedes and BMWs replaced VWs in the parking lot. In time, prices started rising. I still go there for meat (sans anti-biotics and hormones), but with the new regime, not sure that will stay the same. Let’s just say, capitalism built WFM and then also swallowed it. (Which brings one to the moral of the story – that forces of capitalism will in time corrupt even the best ideas and, thus, will lead humanity to a dead end.)

      1. kgw

        Olga, let me suggest Crowd-Cow for real meat. I’ve been using them for 1 1/2 years.

        Just visit their web site and explore. The meat (or chicken, or fish) is delivered in well-packed boxes, with enough dry ice to keep it for several days after delivery.

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s been a few years since we’ve done it, and our neighbors and us would buy half a side of beef from a hobby rancher nearby (we can see potential bessies from afar, it’s best not to give dinner a name before char-s-v-p’ing in the lead up to the mobile butchering van showing up) and it works out to around 225 pounds split 3 ways of grass-fed beef, with around 2/3rds of it being hamburger, delivered in wrapped paper about 3-4 weeks after aging a bit in the meat locker. In theory you could put the cow back together almost, if only each packet was numbered?

          I asked the rancher what he fed them aside from grass, and he told me ‘just a squeeze of alfalfa’, and squeeze in this instance is when an enormous man has a nickname of ‘Tiny’, and it’s more or less the amount you can squeeze onto the back of a truck and then some, around 7,000 pounds of alfalfa.

          Grass-fed doesn’t have a lot of fat, and we found it best to marinate it a bit in olive oil before grilling.

          It tastes nothing like CAFO beef, takes a little getting used, and some friends aren’t fond of it, compared to feedlot food.

          1. lordkoos

            We bought 1/8 of a cow a couple of years ago… the hamburger was fantastic. It smelled nothing like what you can get in the supermarkets.

      2. coboarts

        I used to go to Whole Foods for their raw nuts. They were always fresh, at least I came to rely on them to be fresh. Then, shortly after they were purchased by Mr. Bezos, and the not-miss-a-thing data management system, I guess, took over, and they found that bag sitting in the far corner of some warehouse, and they put those old rancid walnuts into the bin – oh well. that was the last time I shopped there.

      3. Ancient1

        I lived in Austin years ago. Use to go to WFM which at that time was a Hole in the Wall run by young people who some would call hippies. It was a life style which revolted against food that was usually sourced locally. Prices were competitive and the products were fresh. Then all that went away and became just another money making enterprise with gimmicks to entice. But then that happened to the city of Austin as well. So Sorry, life was good then..

      1. polecat

        Bake your own scones, and add as many cranberries as you like. I’ll bet you can produce double, or triple, what it would cost to buy at a$$whole fuds !

        Learn • to • cook/bake • for • yourselves ! .. even if that means botching a recipe at the first couple of attempts … and, this is important .. improvise and alter as is your want ! Part of the fun, for me anyway, is to take the best parts of several like recipes, and create an improved dish.

    2. Lee

      I do likewise; living in the land of fruits and nuts (sf bay area) as I do. We have a locally owned store in the heart of our downtown that’s really just a fruit stand shack. It’s been their since I moved here some decades ago. I’m sure developers and upscalers would love to knock it down and put a chain store there but it hasn’t happened so far. May it ever be so. We also have great farmers’ markets here—about a dozen of them within as many miles.

    3. Oregoncharles

      I’ve never been to one – well, I’m not sure about one store in Portland we had to walk through. We have an excellent co-op just blocks from us, plus a local chain called Market of Choice that has a lot of organic and quality foods. Their deli is very good, their bakery is not. They’re much further away, so we mostly go to the co-op.

  18. Craig H.

    > Alabama Tracking Students’ Locations To Penalize Them For Leaving Games Early

    My reading of that story is the penalty was they did not qualify for a drawing that awarded a prize for staying to the end. That is a non-standard definition of the word penalty.

    (not that Nick Saban is not a total poop head but this seems like it is nothing)

  19. Phacops

    Re: carcinogenic NDMA in Valsartin

    The key here is that chinese bulk drug substance manufacturers frequently make unregulated changes to manufacturing processes. Normally such changes require revalidation of the process where the product, at each stage of synthesis, must conform to the impurity profile of the preceeding process (ICH Q7).

    China has demonstrated, by its caveat emptor behavior, that it has no interest in complying to regulation. This is compounded by the FDA having insufficient funds for thorough foreign inspections or to follow up on an EIR (Establishment Inspection Report). In its response to deliberately adulterated Heparin the Chinese government implied that they have no interest in regulating active pharmaceutical ingredient for export.

    Further, given the already known risks uncovered for drug and device manufacturing in China and India, the FDA, rather than acting in a manner consistent with risk, acts like the manufacturers are ethical actors capable, or desirous, of correcting their deliberately engineered activities.

    To me, it is beyond belief that we allow Chinese drug and device manufacturing to put our health at risk merely because it provides greater profits for domestic drug and device manufacturers.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The story about Valsartin reminded me of the ferris wheel scene in the movie the “Third Man”:
      MARTINS: Have you ever seen any of your victims?
      HARRY: Do you know, I don’t ever feel comfortable on these sort of things…Victims?
      (He opens the door of the carriage.)
      Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there…
      (Long shot from Martins’ eye line of the fairground far below and the people now on it.)
      Would you feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?
      If I offered you £20,000 for every dot that stopped – would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man……free of income tax.
      It’s the only way to save money nowadays.
      Next I thought of the “Chinaman-button” and remembered the story works just as well in reverse.

      I think the FDA acts like it has been captured. Funny how it seems to serve the best interests of Big Pharma.

      1. Duck1

        I guess the caveat emptor behavior of the Chinese manufacturers was learned at the knee of the Americans who offshored production.

        1. Phacops

          That is profoundly unfair. Despite the market behavior of some actors, what I’ve seen in domestic manufacturing, quality, and distribution operations shows processes where quality is designed in and continuously monitored. Output will consistently meet its specifications for strength, purity and efficacy and there are procedures in place to ensure that does not change. Yet, problems remain at all levels from design through monitoring use, but I’ve not met people in the industry who are unconcerned about correcting product or production issues.

          Contrast that with China. In the Heparin sulfate incident I alluded to, a potemkin faciity was used for a FDA inspection and then productuon was moved to the countryside in unregulated mom and pop operations. The material was substandard and the decision was made to game the system of incoming material inspection. With the FDA allowing testing for identity and strength along with the C of A once three lots met full testing are received (I don’t agree with this), the Chinese deliberately added sulfonated junk protein to their product. That tested out for identity and purity in abbreviated testing and ended up killing people. The process change mentioned in the article is another example of deliberate process adulteration. I know of nobody in American drug manufacturing that, unlike the Chinese, would find such behavior acceptable.

          Even so, very much depends on our FDA. Underfunded for its mission it also acts according to the whims of the administration. I can recall specifically that son of bushlips had the FDA treat drug and device manufacturers as customers, not regulated entities. Obama rectified the most egregious deficiencies but still relied on the market (self regulating nonsense). Pay attention to how politicians act towards regulatory enforcement.

          1. Duck1

            Well who decided to substitute Chinese production for domestic manufacture of drugs with inadequate FDA resources to regulate the offshore production? Last I heard it was American importers who made the importing decision into America, not something that was forced on the medical profession by the Chinese.

            1. Phacops

              Exactly, I put the blame on them abetted by our government – both parties.

              Plus, do you trust pharmacy corporations? Unmentioned are the pharma benefits management corporations who are responsible for importing junk generic drugs from china and india. I’ve seen CVS dispense drugs from Ranbaxy that were subject to import alerts.

        1. Duck1

          Seems a little tautological that the largest manufacturing economy produces a lot of counterfeit. Fraud seems to be a universal character defect, not something peculiarly Chinese.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Next thing you will be saying is that the FAA is part of the aviation complex and is not on your side.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      From the story:

      The American Medical Association will assess over the next year whether the country’s drug supply should be better protected.

      As opposed to what? That this several thousand word story describes a drug supply that is already ADEQUATELY protected?

      (I did find myself thanking the lord that our government was at least protecting us from that cheap pharmaceutical junk they have in Canada by preventing “reimportation” from that shithole country.)

      But, being bloomberg–businessweek no less–I coundn’t help wondering if this wasn’t some sort of preemptive strike against generic drugs, which will surely figure prominently in any Medicare for All plan. This particular “news” is several months old.

      And it’s not like there’s a sense of urgency to be found anywhere in the piece.

      1. Phacops

        Canada . . . Many readers here would not know about the difference between the Canadian HPB ( Health Protection Branch) and our FDA in the regulatory inspections of drug and device manufacturers.

        With the FDA, inspections for compliance with regulation is always adversarial. With all documentation from drug design through manufacturing and labeling being legal documents one approached inspections as one would approach a deposition. In contrast, the few times I was in meetings with the HPB it appeared that their interest in finding issues was to work out solutions that would be implemented.

        I liked the HPB approach. Consistent with this was when the HPB inspector was reviewing sterilization validation I did. They reviewed a technical document of mine for calculating accurate sterilizer load limits for parametric release and wondered why it wasn’t published. I had to explain that my employer considered the information to be proprietary.

    3. Cal2

      Very appropriate to this discussion is the new book “Bottle of Lies”
      “…it shows how an industry founded to counteract Big Pharma is now uneasily merging with it, creating a two-headed monster whose tentacles ensnare both hapless victims and would-be regulators.”

      Doctor’s prescription pads have a “Do not substitute” check off box, disallowing the substitution of generics. Anyone visiting a doctor should demand that they check this box, or, if they won’t and you are a dedicated self-protector, check it yourself with the appropriate colored pen.

      Our personal experience with Chinese quality and medicine is that doctors there either incompetently overlook or deliberately fail to mention rampaging cancer in patients; two personal friends who had the disease detected in the U.S. after a routine screening. Some San Francisco acupuncturists are known to prescribe potentially toxic “natural” herbal medicine. They all can, and do, get permanent handicap parking permits for their patients, thus avoiding paying the up to eight dollar an hour demand adjustment parking meters, hence their popularity.

      In addition to tariffs, maybe Trump could use this revelation about bad quality to ban all imports of foreign pharma into the U.S. in favor of national higher quality manufacture? Perhaps no tax dollars, via Medicare or the V.A., could be spent on foreign pharma, as a new national policy?

      1. mnm

        If it weren’t China making products, it would be another third world country. The problem is our bought politicians and greedy US corporations. Nothing will change.

    4. Carolinian

      To me, it is beyond belief that we allow Chinese drug and device manufacturing to put our health at risk

      It is indeed beyond belief. For all the words written around here about the FAA and Boeing the FDA is obviously a far greater problem with a vaster supply of victims. One might ask why our beloved MSM doesn’t spend more time talking about this, but the drug commercials that appear every five minutes on cable and nightly news provide a clue to the answer.

      1. polecat

        Oh come on now, Carolinian … it’s time once again, to take your daily dose of those efficacious melamine horse pills ….

    5. lordkoos

      Beyond the actual drug itself, many problems may be from the part of the pill that is not the drug. I was told by my pharmacist that generic drugs can be dicey for people with allergies, as the generics’ composition can vary quite a bit as far as the fillers they use. My pharmacy is part of a WA state run community clinic and they buy different lots of medications, whatever they can get a good price on at the time they order. This can mean that every time your scrip is refilled you are looking at a different formulation of the same drug. I haven’t had any problems so far with the three meds I take.

  20. mle detroit

    I have an acquaintance who is a clinical psychologist in a large organization. This person and colleagues have spent lunch hours making educated guesses about Donald Trump’s processing of information, based on the same video clips and other reporting available to us all. Their – highly educated but only an – estimate is that he has at best a fifth grade reading ability.

    For the last two years, I’ve been a consistent reader of the forecast discussions on the National Hurricane Center’s website. I noticed today that the language about Tropical Storm Humberto is different from the past. (The media adopted that name many hours before the NHC, which waits until they can say it qualifies as a tropical storm.) The NHC’s discussion contains more modifiers than past discussions, being much more pointed about location and movement — for example, “well east of the Florida east coast and well away from the Bahamas.” Those “wells” are new.

    1. Drake

      I would suggest that, given the fact that Trump became president against 20 Republican contenders and the Democrat laughably labelled ‘the most qualified candidate who ever ran for the office’, Trump’s ability to process information must be at a level far above those of questionable soft-science practitioners subjectively perusing mass media to reach the conclusion that they are clearly intellectually superior to him (what given their walls full of credentials granted by people who think the same things as they do).

      We really need to get over the whole ‘Trump is stupid’ thing. It’s pathetic, embarassing, counter-productive, and wrong.

      1. Off The Street

        So much of the name-calling and snark seem to be self-medications or mantras to try to feel better about that perceived tremor in the force or world view shaken, not stirred. Objectivity suffers along with a decline in awareness of the desirability for historical context and other markers of what used to pass for education. Fortunately, election season isn’t permanent.

        1. Wukchumni

          I guess one of the more bothersome traits, is the concept of always suing* somebody (which is a large part of his tariff tantrum theatrics) and it has spread to his cronies suing for exorbitant amounts, such as Devin Nunes suing Twitter for $250 million over parody accounts mocking him, or the Covington high school student wearing a MAGA hat, suing the WaPo for a similar amount in a defamation lawsuit.

          The gigantic amounts demanded are ludicrous, but the concept must’ve been what’s worked for him in court for oh so long. Ask for a wall of money.

          * he filed a lawsuit on average once every 10 days, the past 30 years pre-presidency

          1. lordkoos

            Don’t see how a suit like that can hold water, I thought it was already decided law that if you are a public figure, you can be lampooned and parodied. My favorite twitter parody is the guy who calls himself Nate’s Liver. Nate Silver the pollster hates him.

          2. Off The Street

            Trump and his ilk represent one sociopathic type of mutation of the neo-liberal model. He isn’t satiated by achievement until he can win by extracting something, anything, from his opponents on the other side of the deal, or is it The Deal. Find some aspect in the business of that vendor, provisioner, tradesman or whomsoever, and drill into it to extract something. Maybe they have a working capital risk, so exploit that like those casino contractors who got stiffed on agreed work. Or maybe they have some other weakness to be exploited, none of which would be viewed as honorable if they ever saw the light of day for voters.

            There are two preferred approaches to dealing with him.
            First, don’t unless you really can’t help it.
            Second, only transact when you have enough FU money to ride out the inevitable problems. Hire those necessary evil attorneys to protect your side of that Deal.
            Some business interactions might seem at first like good opportunities or lucky breaks, only to morph into traps where one side gets the other to commit beyond some point of risk. Here, try this, you’ll like it. What, you got hooked? Caveat emptor, sucka.

        2. Drake

          “Fortunately, election season isn’t permanent.”

          OMG it certainly feels like it is. The 2022 season will start the day after the 2020 season ends.

      2. Lee

        I’m with you. Trump may not talk pretty, but he ain’t no dummy when it comes to awakening the reptile brain in both supporters and opponents. He has a kind of visceral genius when it comes to the mass psychology our time and circumstances— a skill currently lacking in some of his most vociferous, hair-on-fire critics. They identify Trump as the problem rather than the deteriorating material circumstances, poor prospects for the future, and fracturing social cohesion among the great majority in the U.S.

        1. bob

          My first introduction to Trump was as a WWF (world wrestling federation, now WWE) character rich guy in the 1980’s.

          He’s a showman. He knows how to put on a show. Everything about it, staging, lights, crowds, camera angles. His single greatest attribute is his showmanship.

          After that? Not much upstairs. Just zero in on the suckers and get them in the door.

          “President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho”

      3. dcblogger

        Trump is obviously senile, not the first time we installed a senile Republican in the White House. If we nominate Julian Castro we will have a candidate capable of calling him out. (although I support Bernie)

        1. Drake

          It’s not at all obvious to me. I see a guy firing on all cylinders and regularly embarrassing anyone who opposes him. He’s reshaped the Republican party in his image and is learning how to do the same to the federal government overall, after some novice mistakes. It’s obvious to me he’s in full possession of his faculties and remarkably effective, for better or worse.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Spoiled, hypersensitive, and as a result and so focused on winning battles that he regularly loses wars is not senile. It’s just astonishingly immature, made even more remarkable by his lack of concern about how that looks.

      4. polecat

        But but but .. he Twitters ! .. NonStop !! .. and he’s Uncouth !!! .. and he has Orange Hair !!!! .. Therefore, he’s stupid bad !!!!!!!!

  21. EoH

    De facto US internet speeds are a laughing stock. As Yves points out, real cable speeds – not advertised ones that customers pay for – are on par with a copper DSL line. And that doesn’t take into account frequent outages and service interruptions. Industrialized countries in Asia and Europe have much higher speeds for often half the money.

    I wonder if that is owing to extensive lobbying, market concentration, anticompetitive practices generally, and deregulation. Asking for a friend.

    1. Olga

      Central Europe – 15e/mo for speeds of 250Mbs (but if you don’t get that speed, they’ll tell you it is because your equipment cannot handle such fast speed).

  22. Summer

    RE: WeWork
    “WeWork is effectively fielding intense scrutiny and criticism less for being an anomaly in the tech industry than for the many ways it is a poster child for the worst excesses of other tech unicorns — the term used for private companies valued at $1 billion or more — going public this year.”

    How and why is WeWork considered a “tech” company? From these accounts, it mainly flips real estate.

    1. Geo

      I think it’s considered a tech company because it has a stupid name. Seems to be the main qualifier at this point. Just like Uber and Lyft are really taxi companies but their stupid names make them sound like tech companies.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Yours Truly used to be part of a coworking space in Tucson. It went out of business this past June.

      During my nearly four years there, I never heard management refer to it as a tech company. They loved using the word “community,” even though it really wasn’t.

  23. EoH

    Whole Paycheck is cutting medical benefits for “hundreds” of part-time staff.

    They’ll just have to work harder, be more fearful, and go without. “It’s America,” as Joe Biden might say of America’s peculiar form of capitalism.

    But let’s not make demands of Jeff Bezos to work harder or pay tax. He deserves the fruits of his unregulated behavior.

    1. newcatty

      Well, those “part-time staff” can always be like their cohort of part-time staff at Wal-Mart and other employers who declare it fine that many of their employees are on SNAP or financially qualify for Medicaid in their states. It’s, like Joe says: “It’s America”. Oh, its the land of the free. The workers can say, hmmm, maybe this is the time to join the military… Yes, siree! As mentioned in a comment above, Join the military and get housing, food, clothing, training , post high school education, health care and recreation opportunities. This is just for the enlisted person. If married, well your spouse gets same benefits ( though may have to buy some food and clothing at company store , cough: the commissary). Same for kids. The kids are educated at the company schools. At least for now. Oh, you can have a nice or excellent retirement package if you stay in the system, too. As more young people are ground down to facing a bleak life and future…The military, police and LE, prison guards, border guards, or the more elite fire fighters become more seductive. Hmmm… more plebs and serfs moved to choose the “protect and serve jobs (career).” So far, no need for a military draft. You might be excused for seeing this as a feature and not a bug in the country’s growing societal and economic inequality. Also, to be observed, more and more people are purposely working under the table…do not declare income, or only a small amount on many taxes. Yes, they qualify for SNAP, WIC, Medicaid and other government assistance. At least for now. Often, these people take pride in “gaming the big government “. They are often first to champion repugs and Trump. If pointed out any irony or hypocrisy, it does not compute. What could be a way to drive the divide and conquer strategy by PTB: more workers, who do not choose or want, to go on “welfare” are struggling to make ends meet. They have either no or crappified health care plans. Housing costs gobble up for many as much as half, or more, of their income. Pay check to paycheck: basic bills to pay and not much left over. Some work more than one job in a week of working long hours. Many are single moms, or dads, who are stuck in custody arrangements with ex spouse…can not move to different locale or break divorce settlements. Some of these people do not have much sympathy for the smart and smug under -the-table workers having more quality of life than workers who don’t try to purposely work the system to their advantage. When the system players used to be more of outliers, it was more “acceptable”. When workers playing by the “rules” could make wages enough to cover basics and not just keep their heads above water; the world still seemed promising and secure. As more people face stress, tiredness, and lack of relief from drudery; the more the people will become more frightened and , for some, hopeless. It looks dark on the horizon. If the PTB continue as they are now in their greed and evil corruption. Maybe there are brighter rays of hope, ahead.

    2. Wukchumni

      Shop @ Grocery Outlet, which is kind of WFM runs into the 99 Cent store in a food persuasion. Watch the use-by dates on prospective purchases, it might be next week. A fun place to shop for groceries, although you’ll never be able to do it there alone, need to go to a traditional supermarket as well.

      I doubt the employees get anything other than a non-union wage, and benefits, but not really all that-according to this link.,14_IL.15,17_IN1.htm

  24. Summer

    Re: Brexit: Agendas Galore

    “This is all par for the course, and adds to the general sourness over Brexit which ostensibly seems to be going nowhere.”

    One way or another, it’s going towards the exit and that’s the source of the unease.

    1. icancho

      I found it amusing that, throughout his piece, Richard North refers to “the johnson” (sic); everyone else gets their real names, with capitalized initials.
      I suppose this is consistent with this notable paragraph: “In a publicity interview to promote his memoirs due out next week, [David Cameron] is particularly sour about Gove, whom he calls “mendacious” and even refers to him as a “wanker”. As for the johnson, he breaks from the convention that former prime ministers do not criticise their successors, saying that he lied during the referendum campaign, refusing to say he trusts him as premier.”

      1. paul

        Cameron is just as great a liar as johnson.He campaigned declaring that there would be no ‘top down reorganisation’ of the NHS and then implemented one.
        Also responsible for appointing Duncan Smith,May and Osborne to do their worst….and destroying Libya.
        He is very much the degenerate equal of johnson.

  25. bob

    “The Truth About Faster Internet: It’s Not Worth It Wall Street Journal. So if you had any doubts, this should settle them. 5G is for planned obsolescence and better snooping.”

    Added cost too. Wires are ALWAYS better and cheaper than wireless. Full stop.

    The DRM and ads that most ‘content’ is crippled with also probably adds substantially to the overall throughput of any given content.

    DSL level connections would be fine with most people and families if the content weren’t constantly sandwiched between layers of advertising, DRM and tracking.

    The netflix example is as netflix exists now, with ads and DRM. I’d like to see a comparison without any ads, DRM or tracking. That would be an education.

    1. Oregoncharles

      “Wires are ALWAYS better and cheaper than wireless.”
      Evidently you don’t have our phone company. We’re on a local, wireless ISP because it’s both cheaper and far better than the DSL we once had. A large Douglas Fir near the garage serves as an antenna tower, justifying its existence (I like trees, but those are too big and too unstable to have near the house – at one point we took out 3, after one fell and hit the house, and have removed yet another since).

      1. bob

        So your plan is that each of us should grow Douglas Fir trees that we would carry around to allow “wireless”?

        Some prefer cucumbers better pickled.

        1. Oregoncharles

          A lot of people here have tall trees.

          Yes, line of sight is a serious limitation, at least until they put in more transmitters.

          The fact remains that, if you have access, this wireless service is far better than DSL.

    2. lordkoos

      I’m not sure that 5G is about consumers, that may be just a smoke screen covering for some kind of advanced surveillance tech.

      1. bob

        Where does this idea that surveilence tech doesn’t exist now come from?

        IT’S EVERYWHERE ALREADY. The end is here, not near….

        1. lordkoos

          I never said it didn’t exist already, I’m fully aware of that. The point is that 5G would enable more and “better” surveillance.

        2. skippy

          I would like to add that in the early NC days some technoglibertarians were quite clear that meta data would be used to – behaviorally condition – the population, so as to groom populations from birth and overwhelm any opposition by market share.

          I like to think of it as Stalin as an app …. although you can’t even feel the force [tm], its gift wrapped in public choice theory [freedom and liberty].

      2. Ook

        The advantage of 5G for consumers would be to eliminate the difference, speed wise, between copying files locally and copying them to and from the cloud.
        For industrial applications it would enable real time response between objects, something which is not possible now.
        It’s not a matter of streaming Netflix faster.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, come on, speed of access to the cloud is that big a problem that we need to double or triple the cost of infrastructure and risk wiping out not just civilization but humanity faster by killing bees? Are you serious?

          And why do objects need to talk to each other? I fail to see the added benefit relative to the cost. I don’t need my fridge spying on me to tell me if I am low on milk. Plus I may be low on milk for a reason. And I don’t see the industrial argument. We do just in time without 5G, thank you very much.

    3. ewmayer

      “Wires are ALWAYS better and cheaper than wireless. Full stop.” — I’m going to ignore your don’t-anyone-dare-to-challenge-my-unsourced-claim “Full stop”, and note that your claim is patently false in the context of any kind of remote location. You might as well have said “Rail transportation is ALWAYS better and cheaper than air freight. Full stop.”

        1. ewmayer

          You continue to completely miss my point, which is that your “better and cheaper” claims assume that the needed supported infrastructure in the locale pre-exists or can be cheaply built.

          To use your last example: if I needed to drop a couple dozen tanks in remote Alaska for some reason, and were not planning on moving a whole army there, which would be faster and cheaper – building the needed road and rail infrastructure through a thousand miles of mountain wilderness, or using those giant Air Force freight planes specially designed to be able to airdrop such loads? Said planes exist for a *reason*. Economy-of-scale considerations based on urban densities are only valid for such locales. Just because it’s true where *you* live, doesn’t make it true everywhere.

        2. bob

          All the replies above seem to revolve around the “it’s wireless or nothing, those are your choices”

          Wireless is better than nothing. Wires are better in every single way.

  26. Geo

    “Don’t shop Whole Foods. Don’t use Amazon unless you are in a serious retail desert, and then do your best to keep it to the minimum.”

    Seems like not that long ago that anyone with an ounce of social conscience refused to shop at box stores like Walmart. Heck, even Barnes & Nobel, Virgin Records and Blockbuster were the bad guys for putting the local shops out of business. Anyone with any leftie cred bought their books/music/movies from little indie stores. But for some reason even the most diehard eco-conscious, farmers market shopping, lefties I know are Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify addicts.

    Personally, I’ve boycotted Amazon since they first started out by trying to kill off bookstores. I tried Netflix for a month and cancelled. Spotify for a week and cancelled. The trade off is I can’t get what I want immediately. On the plus side, I’ve tempered my consumption habits a lot over the years and find there’s very little I actually need and even less I need immediately.

    There are a lot of big systemic issues beyond our control but one thing we can control is what we buy our daily consumables (food, entertainment, etc) from. It’s kind of shocking how little concern there is for this anymore even in leftie circles than even just 15-20 years ago. Just one more value of the Left that died It seems…

    1. Anonymous

      All the above — and never uber!

      What’s so hard to understand about despair in deaths of despair. In NYC there’s a Stylized Left, where convenience is self–empathy.

  27. Wukchumni

    Venezuela’s Guaidó pictured with members of Columbian gang.

    Oh for the days of the DC Cartel, Bolton & Co. chilling with Guaidó, but sadly no photo evidence of the ensemble exists apparently.

  28. ewmayer

    Study Finds the Universe Might Be 2 Billion Years Younger | Associated Press —

    From the article:

    “Jee and outside experts had big caveats for her number. She used only two gravitational lenses, which were all that were available, and so her margin of error is so large that it’s possible the universe could be older than calculated, not dramatically younger.”

    IOW, the error bars are so large that the study in fact tells us *nothing* useful about the age of the universe. Quite frankly, I’m surprised a study using a miniscule 2 data points got published, especially in a leading journal like Science. Would it have been that outrageous to reject for publication with a note to effect of “interesting methodology, but come back to us when you’ve got enough data points to shrink the error bars under a billion years”?

    1. wilroncanada

      I can hear my fundie Christian friends saying, “You’re getting closer!” Even if they haven’t read the story, just the headline. And that’s all they’ll get from their churches too.

    1. Wukchumni

      Enthusiasts flying drones apparently have few avenues aside from doing it around Lake Kaweah, a reservoir that waxes & wanes with water as the summer winds down, all of the largess going to local ag or beyond via the Friant Canal.

      You can’t drone in Visalia & environs of Tulare Co., nor in Sequoia NP.

      A friend that works for the US Army Corp of Engineers who run the dam, told me there’s a few dozen on most any weekend doing their thing, and I never notice them when i’m driving around, as a person holding something in their hands isn’t exactly unique, nor catches your eye as your doing 55 around the periphery.

      A drone in the hands of any one of those capable users would be the most important aspect of a home/business robbery, or what have you.

      Eye in the sky, and mate a gat to it along with a remote firing mechanism, and a terrified human below perspiring for effect.

      1. Carolinian

        The Saudi attack doubtless involved airplane type drones rather than the quadcopter drones favored by amateur air spies. Quadcopters are cool devices but have negligible lifting ability in most cases due to the electric motors/battery life.

        When I was last at Hoover Dam there was a big “No Drones” sign and in his recent column St. Clair reported the same during a visit to a Columbia River Dam. Personal drones are banned from restricted airspace which includes all airports as well as many Federal facilities such as National Parks.

    2. barrisj

      MoA in his summary and commentary re: drone attacks notes a remark from an “official” Houthi military spokesperson who issued this statement: “This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.. MoA then speculated that the drone launches may well have come from within KSA territory, which may well explain the accuracy and overall destructive effects of the attacks.
      Oh, right on cue, Pompeo blames the Iranians, and Trump babbling about US “response”…these are the predictable consequences of the proliferation of armed drones as a cheap, cost-effective, mobile and decentralized weapon system available to any group carrying out an “insurgency”, and against which there are few definitive countermeasures.

      1. MichaelSF

        And where have we before heard of “Fre(e)men” in desert climes? Perhaps the Saudi royalty will be finding that treachery can go in both directions.

  29. Deschain

    5G – current tech is fine for passive media. However for interactive media such as video games, where milliseconds of delay absolutely matters to the experience, 5G internet will be necessary to make it a mass market product. It’s not just the speed of the connection, it’s also the quality (if you average 25MB but that ranges between 5 and 50, you’re gonna have a bad time.)

  30. dcblogger

    Derrick Soo worked as a government contractor with over three million dollars in the bank when the recession hit and he lost everything. Derrick’s life then snowballed to living in a tent homeless in Oakland, California.

    What started as just a small tent encampment grew to a much larger tent city where homeless people found support and community. Oakland took notice that Derrick and other homeless residents cleaned up the area. The city started to provide trash pickup and Porta Potty portable toilets.

    1. meeps

      In all fairness, it should be noted that Sanders rallied in Denver on the Friday prior to the debate. Everyone I know here has that cruddy throat, fall-cold thingy. I felt bad the poor guy caught so much flack over it, given the givens.

      As for Biden, he’d be more at home in the GOP. I can’t say I’d miss him.

  31. Stevan Thomas

    I have this to say about the Daily Caller piece: the guy gets many things in the big picture correct, but he blows in the details found in the ideological weeds. He’s like a lot of conservatives, when you listen closely, they suck you in by sounding logical, logical, logical, and then go completely bat shit crazy into ideology! This guy conflates things that ain’t necessarily so. All mainstream journalists are lefties? Give me a break! Conflating the new interest in socialism with “central planning”? Argh!

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