Links 10/4/19

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NASA news: Watch the moment Space Station astronauts return to Earth in video Express (furzy)

My Community Is Warming Three Times Faster Than the Rest of the World Vice (resilc)

University of Alberta top official resigns after ‘inexplicable’ climate change billboard Globe and Mail

Populations of UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted since 1970 Guardian (Kevin W) :-(

Could this plastic-eating enzyme be the miracle solution to our plastic problem? Fast Company (David L)

‘I was born without my right hand and use duct tape to play guitar’ Boing Boing (resilc)

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Greta Thunberg New Republic

Nationalism Is an Environmental Disaster Vice (resilc)

If Each of Us Planted a Tree, Would It Slow Global Warming? Wired (David L, Robert M)

Audio@shows hospital kept patient on life support to improve stats ProPublica

Yuval Noah Harari Is Worried About Our Souls GetPocket (David L)


PM to make whirlwind trip to EU capitals to sell his Brexit plan Guardian

MONEY CAN’T BUY EU LOVE Brexit – Boris Johnson pleads with EU chiefs to shift after making big money offer to Ireland to seal 11th hour deal The Sun. What about ‘no’ don’t you understand? Either Boris is a great actor or he really convinced himself that the EU would buckle despite all evidence.

‘Not even remotely acceptable’: European parliament says it will veto Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan Independent


Gunfights Rage as Iraq Protests Grow Nationwide Antiwar (resilc)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct New York Times

EU Court: Facebook Can Be Forced To Remove Content Worldwide Associated Press

Attorney General Bill Barr Will Ask Zuckerberg To Halt Plans For End-To-End Encryption Across Facebook’s Apps BuzzFeed

EFF Wins Access To License Plate Reader Data To Study Law Enforcement Use Electronic Frontier Foundation

Trump Transition

President Delivers Remarks and Signs Executive Order on Medicare C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Trump promotes private Medicare coverage, drawing contrast with Democrats’ health care plans Politico (resilc)

They’re Retired. They’re Insured. The Government Pays for It. And Trump Loves It. ProPublica (UserFriendly). More on Medicare Advantage plans.

The Dereliction of William Barr New Republic. Wowsers: “It takes a special kind of attorney general to make Jeff Sessions seem scrupulous.”

For Trump, Regime Change Begins at Home LobeLog (resilc)

Trump’s Big Mouth American Conservative

Why It’s So Hard to Build Trust In Government Washington Monthly (resilc). How about 40 years of conservative marketing that government = theft?

A Broken System Helped the FCC Kill Net Neutrality. It Afflicts the Whole Government. Slate (Kevin W)


Both sides dig in after marathon Trump-Ukraine briefing The Hill

Trump raised Biden with Xi in June call housed in highly secure server CNN. Earlier than the Ukraine call.

Schiff: Trump requests to China, Ukraine are ‘fundamental breach’ of office The Hill

Mike Pence Took Part in Ukraine Pressure Campaign: WaPo Daily Beast (resilc)

If we legitimize Trump’s behavior, it’ll be open season on our politics – The Washington Post. Resilc: “By the neocon King Kagan, Lord of the Deep State.”


Biden Campaign’s Ukraine Strategy: Don’t Become Hillary 2.0 Vanity Fair (resilc)

Biden’s $15.2 Million Trails Sanders, Buttigieg: Campaign Update Bloomberg. Similar story in Water Cooler, that the moneyed classes are cutting back on pumping air in the Biden balloon.

Bernie Sanders Is Now Facing Something He Hates: Physical Limitations And A Focus On Himself BuzzFeed (UserFriendly)

Why Black Voters Prefer Establishment Candidates Over Liberal Alternatives FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly)

Military Keynesianism Marches On CounterPunch. Resilc: “Just like the USSR”.

US data crashes stock market, threatens Trump Asia Times

New Cars’ Pedestrian-Safety Features Fail In Deadliest Situations, Study Finds Wall Street Journal

Cable Companies Use Hidden Fees To Raise Prices 24% a Month ars technica

Risky mortgages are exploding again, in echo of buildup to 2008 financial crisis Washington Post (resilc). As we recounted back in the day, the sell side rejected reforms to “private label” mortgages that investors demanded. So that market remains way smaller than it was before the crisis. Fannie and Freddie step in. 30% of mortgages they guaranteed this year have payments >50% of borrower income.

Ivanka Trump and Google’s CEO Announce a Tech Job Training Initiative CNBC

Basic income denied in Ontario openDemocracy. One of the reasons we have not supported a UBI. It is too easily depicted as welfare, which makes it vulnerable to being cut. By contrast, people who choose to work under a Job Guarantee will be providing services, like planting trees, day care, elder care, which will develop constituencies that will defend the program.

Class Warfare

While I am glad this woman had a reversal of fortune, she never should have been homeless in the first place:

Jeff Hatch Was Dealing Fentanyl. And Helping Addicts. Then a Planned Visit from the VP Blew It All Up Sports Illustrated (bob k)

Republican fail: 40 years of tax cuts, record debt and inequality gap USA Today (UserFriendly). Huh? Things are going according to plan!

A Minneapolis woman’s ‘bizarre and surreal’ decades-long loan dispute MPR News. Chuck L: “College loan horror story.”

With authorities in Missouri trying to shut down the state’s last abortion provider, Planned Parenthood just opened a massive “megaclinic” in St. Louis’s Illinois suburbs NBC (Lawrence R)

Out With ALEC, In With Corporations Writing Their Own Laws American Prospect (resilc). As Lambert would say, “Wonderfully clarifying.”

The Case for Black Optimism Quillette. UserFriendly: “Definitely not buying all of this but there are a few good points. IMO the better metric would be relative rate of change by race.”

Uber Works Officially Launches In Chicago Uber Blog, Joshua C:

My take: Uber’s redefined business model – to become the monopoly provider of all low-skilled precarious work. From ride-share, to food delivery and now service jobs. You no longer have to wait in your car to only pick up strangers or their food on demand, you can now clean their toilet too.

Antidote du jour (furzy):

And a bonus. Today is World Animal Day!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Ivanka Trump and Google’s CEO announce a tech job training initiative”

    Yeah, you get to learn how to code.

    1. Trick Shroadé

      Ivanka Trump belongs there about as much as Hunter Biden belongs on a Ukrainian corporate board.

      1. vlade

        Which is why the whole “looking into family business of the VP! They were profiting from the office!” is so funny.

    1. notabanker

      Asked if there was any conflict of interest, Mr. Mesires, said: “Hunter has been repeatedly clear on this point. Hunter has not and does not discuss his business interests with his father.””

      There you have it, case closed!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I wonder if selling out the industrial Midwest, wholesale transfer of good paying middle class manufacturing jobs to China and shifting of blame for the resulting economic devastation and despair to the american people themselves while pretending cheap Chinese manufactured junk was something the u.s. could not live without, could be considered a “favor.”

      Or, in the vernacular, “something of value.”

      1. kiwi

        Thank you.

        And you can also include the technology they now have to blow us up and their economic strength gratis of the American worker and US corporate traitors.

        Thanks, Clinton, Biden, Bush, Obama (and others).

    1. m

      Walmart is just jumping on the bandwagon. Patients are being encouraged to use clinics and stop coming to the ER unless it is an emergency. Pharmacists that work at Walmart are under paid and I am sure clinic staff will be as well. I would never use a Walmart clinic, unless it is a basic physical so your kid can get on a sports team or you need a quick refill on a chronic script.

  2. David

    For those who can withstand yet another article on Brexit, this piece by Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times is actually pretty good, especially for encapsulating in a few words what several of us having been saying for a while about the surreal behaviour of the British government:

    “… we do not have to assume that Johnson is lying and that his proposals exist only to provoke the EU to reject them. We just have to assume that he is, like Cameron and Theresa May before him, so consumed with the internal politics of Brexit that he finds it impossible to think realistically about the real negotiations.”

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      Further to Brexit, the Irish Times has also published this article about the impact on the horse racing industry,

      British and Irish raiders have taken many of France’s top prizes in recent years, leading to questions about the long term viability of the French industry. There are fewer big domestic owners. Tax is also discouraging investment, if one can use the term.

      As with other industries, such as financial services, Brexit may yet bring some respite. In addition to the superior prize money, the hassle factor of migration controls associated with Brexit are causing many owners with bloodstock in the UK to consider sending horses to France.

      This week-end, at the Arc festival at Longchamp, many British based owners will meet the French authorities and younger owners hoping to be elected to the sport’s French governing body. There’s a plan to lobby Bercy (the French finance ministry) and Brussels to ease up and make France as attractive as Ireland for such investment.

      Readers who watch the big race on Sunday, 16:05 CET / 14:05 GMT, will notice the favourite’s lad, Imran Shahwani. The lad is one of many Indians who have been brought in to replace local, Irish or continental lads and lasses, especially, but not exclusively, since the referendum.

    2. The Rev Kev

      In the past I have mentioned how the Russians were saying that the US government were rank amateurs who lacked even the basic professionalism to get anything done. That they were недоговороспособны or “non-agreement capable”. After reading that Fintan O’Toole piece, I think that you can now say the same for the UK government. Their internal wrangles have made them incapable of making agreements with the EU in a pragmatic, meaningful way. It seems that no agreement with the EU would ever be agreeable to factions like the DUP. God, the British were once renowned for their diplomatic skills.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Kev and for the kind mention in dispatches in your post.

        Over lunch today with a colleague from Belgium, and one of Italian migrant parentage, he echoed the comment about British politicians, but added about British management and how the City, Premier League and Wimbledon have become playgrounds for foreign competitors, which spoke volumes about British administrators. He concluded that perhaps Belgians and Italians have nothing to be ashamed about in comparison with the UK and to fear from the EU.

    3. Winston Smith

      Another good piece by O’Toole on BoJo is in the NYRB of August 15th and aptly titled “the ham of fate”. Interesting and humorous analysis of the main Brexit character.

    4. mpalomar

      “Political compromise is about two sides with different agendas meeting each other half way…”
      “they have been in search of a magical technology that make the facts on the ground disappear. And ever since it became clear that this technology does not exist, the internal project has been what Whitehall officials privately call “keeping the corpse warm”.

      Those two thoughts of O’Toole’s reminded me of a book I recently came across, The EU an Obituary by John Gillingham. I’m not sure if Naked Capitalism has reviewed it, I did a search and nothing came up but curious if there are any thoughts. Three points:
      The confounding Brexit knot reflects in some way the even knottier EU project that has devolved into bureaucratic entanglement in a quest to resolve democratic nationalism with elitist supra national technocracy. The failure of the EU government project has resulted in waste and corruption by way of a proliferation of bureaucratic layers, including quangos, which I had thought were some sort of Australian marsupial.

      Brexit may be the right move by the wrong people, that is the Farage and Johnson et. al. are likely taking the UK into a worse place for social democracy; from the frying pan to the fire. Corbyn’s nuanced ambiguity about Bexit reflects the belief that the EU, whatever it started out as and Gillingham follows it from the Marshall Plan, Monnet, Hallstein, Erhard, the ECSC and the UK FTA etc., it has become a neo liberal project whose multi layered technocratic bureaucracy is smothering democracy in the UK and Europe at the expense of multinational corporate agendas.

      Is it possible, despite appearances, the shaky EU project may need the UK more than the UK needs the EU given polls showing that at citizen level the EU is unpopular across the zone and given the decades long inability to structure a truly functional government and the seismic nationalist tremors that have been rattling the zone? If the UK leaves and doesn’t crash and burn, will other members find there may be a way out of the briar patch? Of course it helps to have your own currency.

      1. vlade

        ” at the expense of multinational corporate agendas. ” You mean like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon? (all of whom are being sued by the EU, and most of whom were already fined by the EU non-trivial amounts).

        The EU is way more neo-liberal now that it was twenty, or even ten years ago. But, to a very large extent, it’s the doing of the UK, who was pushing it towards more neoliberalism all the time. It remains to be seen what happens when the UK is out.

        ” showing that at citizen level the EU is unpopular across the zone” No idea what polls you’re watching, or what you’re drinking when watching them. But majority of the EU27 (with the exception of Greece) have support of the EU over 70% (CZ is the only one with lower, and even they have well over majority).

        Where the EU doesn’t score high is in areas like intrusivnes (where the EU citizens are split, with slight majority saying “too intrusive”), efficiency (considered not very efficient by about 60-40 margin), and understanding of a daily problems of its citizens (2/3 vs 1/3). You could argue that the last one is really bad, but it’s not really that much different from any government, and better than a lot others (source, Pew research earlier this year, but the high level of support for the EU is common amongst pretty much all polls).

        1. mpalomar

          “No idea what polls you’re watching, or what you’re drinking when watching them.”
          French brandy I believe though more likely the potent homegrown that I’m smoking.
          As I referenced, this take comes from the book, The EU an Obituary by John Gillingham. As far as negative public opinion he quotes a defecting Eurocrat Yves Meny to whom Gillingham attributes the thought that, “every major party in every member state is divided on the question of the EU and the public is on the whole, strongly opposed to it,” which came as a surprise to me. I’ve been more optimistic about the EU project but the book has introduced some skepticism, which is why I was wondering if anyone knows the author or the book. The reviews I’ve found on the web are mixed but he’s credentialed.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Could these plastic-eating enzymes be the miracle solution to our plastic problem?”

    This story keeps on popping up every coupla years so I would say no. Until plastic-eating enzymes are out there being used on an industrial scale across the world, I refuse to believe such stories. Is a biologically-based solution the best way to get rid of all that plastic pollution? Probably. But I would like to know what those enzymes would break plastic down into first.
    Having said this, there is a great scifi story waiting to be written about a plastic-eating enzyme getting loose into the wild and eating all the plastic that we use in our everyday lives whether we wanted it to or not. Such a story could highlight how much plastic is in our lives now as compared to say, half a century ago. I guess that I myself would be in for a wooden or fiber-glass keyboard for a start.

    1. bronco

      I think that sci-fi story was written about 50 years ago?

      I may be confusing it with Niven’s superconductor plague so don’t quote me

      1. DonCoyote

        There’s a brief mention of it in Ringworld Engineers, by Niven (1980):

        “That happened on Earth once,” said Louis Wu. “A yeast that could eat polyethylene. It was eating the plastic bags off the supermarket shelves. It’s dead now. We had to give up polyethylene.”

        btw, polyethylene is the most common plastic which accounts for about a third of total plastic production.

        1. wilroncanada

          A friend I worked with/for, in about 1979 or 1980, brought a sailing magazine into the store with a story about a polyester worm which was eating the hulls of sailboats. The results were, like the (in)famous Sans Serriffe story in the Guardian, generators of massive mistaken comment. Neither he nor the other readers checked the masthead of the magazine–April edition.

      2. jessica

        I don’t remember specific stories, but microbes eating all our plastics was a sci-fi staple 50-60 years ago, if not earlier.
        Then came stories about the entire biosphere turned into gray goo.

    2. Stephen Gardner

      The article said it breaks them down into “precursor components”. A little research on the precursors to PET plastics reveals ethylene glycol (EG) and terephthalic acid (TPA), sometimes called “purified terephthalic acid” are precursors to PET plastics.

      It seems also that PET is already recycled, just not with enzymes. The main advantage here seems to be you don’t have to clean the plastic first.

      One note though: whenever I see an article where the word “incentivize” occurs I know it is written from the perspective of the foolish ideology behind neoliberal economics. It reduces the whole of human motivations to money and profit. That’s the ideology that underpins the dystopia we currently inhabit.

    3. Gliff

      See Michael Crighton’s The Andromeda Strain for the all too brief appearance of such an organism

      1. The Rev Kev

        Gaach! Of course! I knew that somebody had done that story before. I have a copy of it in my bookcase myself would you believe. Thanks for the reminder.

      2. The Beeman

        Didn’t andromeda break down rubber not plastics? The face mask of the overflight over piedmont disintegrated

        1. LifelongLib

          IIRC the pilot says “everything made of rubber on the plane is dissolving”, but the people investigating the crash say it’s not actually rubber but a synthetic called polycron.

          1. LifelongLib

            And it turns out the seals at the Wildfire lab are also made of polycron, which the microbe dissolves and escapes, activating the lab’s nuclear destruct mechanism.

    4. ambrit

      The very inventive John Varley wrote an apocalyptic scenario themed book, “Slow Apocalypse,” on the idea of an engineered oil thickener getting loose and destroying the world’s petrochemical component via making it impossible to pump oil out of the ground.
      Unintended consequences…..

    5. jef

      One thing I never see addressed in the “plastic-eating enzymes save the day” stories is, sorry to get graphic but everything that eats then poops. I am sure it breaks plastic down a bit but it doesn’t magically go away.

      I file this under my new favorite saying – The Solution To Pollution Is Delusion.

      1. Collapsar

        Plot twist: the plastic eating microbes end up producing methane as a waste product, which accelerates the rate of global warming.

    6. Dan

      One readily available solution to plastic pollution is to stop using it for non essential things.
      Yesterday we got a 10″X8″ solid plastic sheet in the mail advertising’s latest promotion. At least they marked it number 7, “other”, meaning straight to landfill, the incinerator or the sea.
      “Expert Advice, non commissioned experts available 7 days a week…”
      Why don’t their “experts” figure out how to use paper to mail their propaganda?

      Note to advertisers, we’ll add to a list of companies that we’ll boycott forever, and recommend the same to everyone far and wide. Why support any company that chooses to promote itself using unnecessary environmental degradation like this outfit?

      Same thing with magazines wrapped in unrecyclable plastic, send the postage paid postcards inside to all the advertisers and the magazine itself heralding a boycott of every businesses associated with plastic polluters.

      1. lordkoos

        Even worse IMO is the relatively recent use of a thin plastic laminate on top of paper to give a matte or glossy feel to a cards, brochures, packaging materials, book jackets and so on. I’m seeing it on around 80% of our mail these days. This means countless paper products are now unable to be recycled. Rather than curtailing the excessive use of plastic, manufacturers seem to be doubling down.

    7. Lee

      Spoiler Alert

      In Chricton’s Andromeda Strain an exoplanetary pathogen mutates from crystallizing human blood to decomposing synthetic rubber.

      1. polecat

        Well, for a start, those nifty enzymes could begin with Hollywood .. and then move on to the perpetually coiffed MSM stalking heads, as a test run … before moving on to Greater Plasticistan e.i. Congress+Multinational Corpses ..

    8. Phacops

      What we need to do is convince the conspiracy alarmist right wingers that they will be exposed to fast neutrons and they need to cobble together shielding from stuff containing polyethylene and boron/lithium. That would take care of a lot of recycling as they surround their houses/trailers with shredded straws and milk jugs along with old lithium batteries.

      1. ambrit

        “..will be exposed…” Wait there consumer! Aren’t you just describing the present state of affairs, Terrestrial Human wise? Admitted, this would be a genius level public relations stunt, using, of course, Wile E Coyote, well known ‘Super genius’ as our standard.
        “New! Improved! ACME Fast Neutron Inhibitor Shield!”
        They’ll zip off the shelves so fast we’ll be seeing Cerenkov radiation trails everywhere. [Uh oh. Wrong particle!]

    9. Old Jake

      Submitted for reference, comparison, and general edifcation. Mother Nature long ago developed agents to degrade two of the most common polymers: lignite and cellulose. With these as models, we can expect that such agents will be slow enough that we need not fear rapid disintegration of our coffee cups etc. Note that the primary agents are members of the fungus kingdom ( Fascinating creatures.

      1. Ignacio

        Funguses are unique in that they can feed on lignine and this is because they are the only –as far as I know– to produce oxidoreductases with enough reducing power to attack this very difficult substrate. Yes, they are fascinating. On cellulose you can find bacteria that are as active or better than funguses and you can find them in the digestive of thermites for instance. Animals rely almost exclusively on bacteria for plant degrading enzymes. Eucalyptus eating koalas feed their offspring with feces to inoculate them with the proper bacterial population.

    10. Ignacio

      I missed your commentary and added below. I feel confident that some day some plastics could be recycled by enzymatic degradation and reusing the plastic monomers to produce plastic again. Not all plastics are equally sensitive to enzymatic attack and some kinds will remain untractable over the years. The most abundant plastics produced currently are polypropilene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) and we can consider both as not biodegradable and extremely difficult to degrade with enzymes, even when a few PP and PE degrading enzymes have been discovered.

    11. Jack Parsons

      “The Andromeda Strain”, baby! Quite a good sci-fi knuckle-biter movie in the early 70s.

  4. Steve H.

    Does Betteridge’s Law Actually Work?

    While NC’s fundraising week is going on, Dilbert is exploring the problems of distinguishing parody from reality. In 1994’s “Out of Control”, Kevin Kelly had a section on creating reliable systems with faulty components. If a component is wrong over half the time, you just flipped the value. TRUE becomes FALSE, and v.v.

    When, a few years ago, I started reviewing websites to see how often they were later proved correct, or their predictions turned out true, I was able to pare down my engagement a great deal. A lot of confirmation bias got flushed. There’s still less than a dozen. NC was right at least three-sigma, and usually corrected its errors (being accused of buffing up my resume for wall st still stings a bit, but I’ve had far too many boneheaded remarks forgiven, and I like the tea in this parlour). NC presented a ridiculous perspective which, on analysis, turned out to be true (‘taxes don’t fund federal government’). And it genuinely presents links without the presumption of validation (“Our Goal is to Promote Critical Thinking”).

    This comes to mind twice in today’s links. First, 538. Just flip the value. That they’re still around indicates they are promoting something that someone is willing to pay for. In a similar way, Netflix is a bellwether of promotion, and what is new to the site often connects to an upcoming release. I slouched into a 4.4 star movie, but I noted that one of the characters put Vice ahead of NYT & WaPo as being a credible investigatory organization. Got me wondering.


    “A once-floated IPO now seems out of the question, leaving Dubuc, whose contract reportedly rewards her in the event of a sale, to try to find a buyer. In February, Tyrangiel told his staff that Vice’s investors were demanding that it become profitable this year, and a person with knowledge of the company’s business strategy said Dubuc hopes to find a buyer by the end of next year.” “Vice’s deal with TPG, the private-equity firm that poured $450 million into the company in 2017, includes a clause that allows TPG’s stake to grow until the company is sold.” Ka-Ching.

    I specifically note this in reference to the article “Nationalism Is an Environmental Disaster.” This puts nationalism as the pole of the Rodrik Trilemma to be eliminated. Lest we forget, globalism almost won with the ISDS clause of the TPP allowing two corporate lawyers (a majority of the tribual of arbitraitors) to sabotage any environmental law that a nation of citizens might put forth.

    Looks like Vice’s ‘we know youth’ sales pitch is getting moldy after a quarter-century. Caveat emptor.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Both Zero Anthropology and the Archdruid’s new blog had commentary recently that, while they fully believed climate change was a real and serious threat, the sudden push of it to the spotlight by monied interests that would stand to lose out hugely if any real effort to oppose it is made made them suspicious that it is being used to push large and otherwise unacceptable societal changes that are not in our best interest. They did not know what those changes were, though.

      …When I read the headline of the Vice article, I let out an audible “ahhhhh” of enlightenment.

        1. s.n.

          thank you for linking to this extremely interesting blog and its lengthy series on the “Manufacturing of Greta Tunberg’, which i was not previously aware of

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            I will add my thanks to the list as I have not taken much notice of little Greta, but did wonder if she was the the chosen figurehead of a ship bearing the same rotten old agenda. it is extremely disappointing but sadly comes as no surprise.

            1. witters

              “I have not taken much notice of little Greta” – A fine drop of condescension, Eustache de Saint Pierre! Single malt?

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I checked Morningstar’s site and tried to get through the first of the series about McKibben. Could you help me out with a SparkNotes version? Also, a SparkNotes version of the Greta files would be helpful. The polemics were so thick I got lost looking for the connections with Big Money.

          I didn’t realize McKibben was a spokesman for The name of that organizations puts a lie to its bona fides. The very slickness — should I say greasiness — of some of the support for the Green New Deal makes me suspicious but I can’t identify who the players are or exactly what they are about. As for Greta and the various children’s crusades — there is an odor about them that doesn’t remind me roses or honeysuckle, but again I can’t identify who the players are or exactly what they are about.

          1. Steve H.

            SparkNotes: Gates and Buffett invested in trains to haul tar sands, then funded McKibben to go after the main transport competition, which is pipelines.

            The thickness of the recent work cannot be avoided. This is due to the deliberate interconnectedness of the organizations involved, which she lays out in detail. It is not unlike Yves work in ‘ECONned’ and on CalPERS. In both cases, it’s not just laying out a particular scandal, it’s pulling the curtain back on a strategic paradigm shift, which has been funded by financial interests.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Thank you for the info. I think the difference might be the amount of diatribe a poor reader might need to wade. Yves is succinct and to the point.

        3. Foy

          Thanks very much for posting Steve, that is some first class research and analysis about the forces behind Greta.

          Also it was interesting and sad to read how the firm M-Kopa Solar which purports to help poor Africans living on $2 per day get access to electricty, when in actual fact it is a finance operation charging 20% interest rates to them for the solar equipment for their house/hut, that they must pay their loan on a daily basis and that each solar device has a sim card that can shut itself off remotely.

          And of course the telecommunications company gets a cut on each transaction. The price of 24 inch television solar kit is $644 (before penalties accumlating on top of this amount for late payment as with all microfinance operations). And that Al Gore is an investor in M-Kopa Solar.

    2. lambert strether

      > Lest we forget, globalism almost won with the ISDS clause of the TPP allowing two corporate lawyers (a majority of the tribual of arbitraitors) to sabotage any environmental law that a nation of citizens might put forth.

      Say what you like about Trump, but we dodged a bullet on ISDS when he put down TPP.

      1. Off The Street

        ISDS probably isn’t dead, just waiting for another chance to reincarnate. The average person probably didn’t have any awareness of the existence of ISDS, let alone what it would do to them.

    3. Olga

      I have a problem with these sudden efforts to cast doubt on Greta. She’s been around, raising concerns about climate change, for quite a while. Why this concerted effort to undermine her? And coming from the so-called left?
      It seems to me that this is – at best – a rather misguided strategy. At worst, it is yet another attempt to manipulate even the well-meaning individuals. We have a problem that needs to be addressed. If every time a person who’s raising issues gets accused of being manipulated – where does that leave us? A movement to address climate change can never be built this way. Seems like a path to ‘no exit’ door.

      1. Steve H.

        > She’s been around, raising concerns about climate change, for quite a while.

        And from the very first moment, she was being used to market carbon offsets.

        “Rentzhog’s tweet, via the We Don’t Have Time twitter account, would be the very first exposure of Thunberg’s now famous school strike.”

        “We Don’t Have Time is mainly active in three markets: social media, digital advertising and carbon offsets.”

        > A movement to address climate change can never be built this way.


        1. Olga

          I think you miss the point – which is: if every time those raising the topic get thrown under the bus for being manipulated, how do we build awareness and issue a call to action? You have a better idea for building the necessary awareness? The anti-Greta thing is a cul-de-sac strategy.
          Either we remain oblivious, resulting in no action – or we try to raise awareness, and hazard being accused of being manipulated, most likely resulting in no action. No win either way… we are so family-blogged.

          1. Steve H.

            Olga, my apologies if I’m wrong, but it seems to me you have not read the Morningstar links. She has given clear evidence not only of corporate backing for green energy initiatives, but of suppression of alternatives. Particularly noteworthy is the exclusion of indigenous peoples, and their own initiatives. Likewise the lack of engagement with the military.

            So, yes, there is a better way of building the necessary awareness and call to action. It is not that the anti-Greta thing is a cul-de-sac strategy. It is that the Greta thing *is* the cul-de-sac strategy.

            “The ten-year social engineering effort also led to a transition from environmentalism into full-blown yet undetected anthropocentrism. Over a ten year span, “environmentalism” moved from that of protecting nature, to demanding a roll-out of green technology, industrial in scale, that would further plunder nature.”

            1. Lambert Strether

              I’m plowing through that series. I will say that the pieces themselves are more nuanced than the discussion about them. I think using Greta as the initial story hook has created problems, even if it was necessary, because now everybody is taking sides about the person.

              1. Roy G

                Lambert, i’m looking forward to your analysis and appreciate your point here. I was informed after reading the Morningstar articles, but even after / despite the plutocratic backing, too many of the attacks on Greta are of a different nature, almost like Gamergaters went after female developers, very personalized and visceral, crossing the boundary.

                I also hope you can include the other side of the story, which is that many many kids (my own included) participated in the protests, and our P.OV. as parents is that encouraging activism is good (As my French-American wife often points out, ‘Americans have forgotten how to strike!)

                I’m in agreement with the cul-de-sac argument, and it is a dilemma. I’m looking forward to hearing your take on this.

            2. Olga

              I did read some of it. But to me the question remains – how do we get anything done, with doubts being thrown every which way?

                  1. dcrane

                    I’m not trying to be argumentative, but it truly means what I said. The fact that emotional appeals (ranging from subtle up to bullying) are commonly used in politics doesn’t seem like grounds for excusing the tactic. When people think they are being manipulated, they are more likely to just close down the discussion. It can look as if the advocates believe that the rational case is not strong enough. We should deal with this as coolly and rationally as possible.

                    I understand the counterargument that the situation is so grave that we must use all means necessary to motivate people, but I believe that will fail in part because of the tactic.

              1. Steve H.

                Thank you, Olga. Yves has referred to a need for ‘radical conservation.’ That sounds difficult, but Volume II Act I notes this:

                “He [Pacala] concluded that the wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all global greenhouse gas emissions while the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing.”

                There’s your problem. It’s about political/lifestyle choices, and what Morningstar is hammering home is that the green energy campaign leads to further ravaging of the environment. “Power concedes nothing without a demand”, and the demand has to be on the 15%.

                To dcrane’s point about emotion: look at Volume I Act II and search David JP Phillips. He is on the We Don’t Have Time advisory board, and his specialty is the neurochemistry of emotions and how to manipulate them with stories. “The effects of oxytocin make you more generous, trusting, and ready to bond. This is what is released in your blood when you hear a sad story. It makes us feel relaxed and more human as we bond to the storyteller.” This is what we’re up against.

          2. Jeremy Grimm

            I haven’t plowed throughout the series — and probably won’t. Time is limited. Base on what I have read — Am I to believe Greta has found the essence of Truth based on so little — and am I to believe Greta is wrong … based on so little? There is too little to believe one way or the other — so I must go with my gut.

            Greta believes truly … but the support behind her … .

            BUT Greta or no Greta global Climate Chaos is upon us and there is no ‘nice’ solution to the problems it aggravates and exist as heavy millstones on our future. Greta is all too glossy for me. That is not to say her message is false.

            We MUST separate those who carry the message from the message. The backing for Greta may be questionable but her message may not be. The message matters … not the messenger.

      2. anon y'mouse

        perhaps read the series, then report back to us.

        Greta may be genuine. the people using her are not.

        and they have much worse in store for us than one wants to realize.

      3. Shonde

        Maybe some of us are old lefties that have personally seen the history of what usually happens to those who actually speak “truth to power” multitudes of times and it ain’t a pretty history. The reception of Greta by wealth and power doesn’t make sense to us. Does it make sense to you?

        1. Wukchumni

          Yes, Greta’s garbled connections and platitudes from power seem seemly, seen far from the scene.

  5. Wukchumni

    From the Harari link (I enjoyed Sapiens, thought provoking stuff!)

    I would definitely recommend that everybody unplug for at least an hour or two every day and for longer periods during the year. I completely unplug and practice two hours of meditation every day. Every year I go for longer retreats of 30 or 60 days of complete disconnection from all phones, computers, devices. I’m a happier and calmer person because of that; I have greater peace of mind. It also helps me in my job of seeing the world better. Because what really comes between you and the world, makes everything so blurred and hard to understand, are your own weaknesses, your own pre-existing biases and fears. If you don’t know these biases, don’t know your fears and hatreds and cravings, it will be extremely difficult to understand the world. If your mind is all over the place and you have a hard time focusing it for any length of time, you will never be able to go deep into any question.

    Its even more enlightening when lightening your load with others in tow, 5 of us were in the back of beyond for 4 days last week and didn’t see another soul in all that time aside from the ranger @ Hockett Meadow.

    When you take people out of the information game & connectivity for a spell, they still crave it, but have to rely upon old fashioned flow in their heads up display. The conversations tend to be scintillating in scope, and after having walked all day, there’s really nothing to do in camp aside from bullshitting & tossing around ideas.

    1. Dan

      Another aspect of unplugging: Stop all discourse with anyone who is looking at a screen or typing while they talk to you. i.e. “Checking their messages…”

      Wish I thought of this; “Pick up a book and read it after the phone offender has finally looked up from their screen and expects you to focus on them. Speak to them with your eyes in the book. They’ll get the idea.”

    2. Carolinian

      Some of us do share your love of solitude (or small group-itude). Perhaps one prob with our superconnected world is that we spend a lot more time talking than thinking. It’s said that Beethoven would mentally compose his great works in the course of long walks and Einstein loved to take walks as well.

      When I go on hikes I can always detect the casual hikers long before I see them because you will hear them talking. Some find nature intimidating (or perhaps just boring) and prefer to socialize. “Silence is golden” is not their mantra–even far away in the wilderness.

      1. Wukchumni

        I backpacked with a walkman, 5 cassettes and a bunch of extra AA batteries for a few years in the 80’s, and found that Russian classical music best fitted the terrain of constant ups and downs in the High Sierra, this being an example for an uphill stretch of trail.

          1. Wukchumni

            I did a lot of solo backpacking in those days, and if you ever want to be alone with your thoughts, try a week of talking to no one on for size.

            All the experts say you should never do this, which only heightened my interest in seeing what it was like, being truly self-sufficient in the big woody.

            1. Carolinian

              John Muir walked across America by himself. There’s a safety issue–a sanity issue I doubt it.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Harari needs to unplug for more than a couple hours a day if you ask me.

      I really don’t buy this nonsense that the algos are going to take over everything. These algorithms come from somewhere – from other human beings – but Harari neglects to mention this agency. NC has discussed over and over the fallibility of algorithms produced by humans which contain all the flaws of humanity. I;m not saying algos are worthless, in many fields they can be quite beneficial. But not in all of them.

      To me the notion that we will be taken over by the superior algos is very similar to the physics envy of economists. Math works pretty well for describing and predicting physical results, but for economics where human nature is involved, not so much.

      Rather than meditating and obsessing over algorithms, perhaps Harari should just make a real live friend.

      1. Susan the other`

        AI is forever bound to its creators. That’s us. If intuition and inexplicable flashes of genius and understanding were something that algorithms and infinite connections of algorithms could attain we might actually be saved by them. But somehow I doubt that will be the reality with AI. It’ll be more like vacuous deductions times the speed of light squared.

        1. notabanktoadie

          It’ll be more like vacuous deductions times the speed of light squared.

          Succinctly said.

          I don’t deny that true AI might arise (See Spielberg’s “AI”) but then with quirks and failings to rival those of humans? (And perhaps even subject to demon possession? How could we be sure otherwise?)

          And then there’s the moral problem, as “AI” pointed out, of forming something that can suffer. Granted, humans are complicit in that with their own children but good parents are devoted to raising their children well. But who’ll parent a race of true AI’s well?

    4. Anthony G Stegman

      Last month I walked to Hockett Meadow from the Cold Springs campground. Cody the ranger told me approx. 350 people over the 5 months he lives at the ranger station visited the meadow, which by the way is beautiful. On that 20 mile round trip walk I saw not a single human. It was wonderful.

  6. jfleni

    RE: Trump’s Executive Order is a Backdoor Privatization of Medicare.

    TRUMP Blowback: This could finally be the boost that medicare for all needs to get over the final hump!! Nobody will believe or accept
    the Trump scam machine on this issue!!

    1. flora

      adding re: They’re Retired. They’re Insured. The Government Pays for It. And Trump Loves It. – ProPublica

      ProPublica missed an important point about Minnesota traditional Medigap plans; they offer better financial coverage than most other states’ medigap plans (offered by private insurance companies licensed to sell medigap plans in the states). This being the case, any Medicare Advantage plan sold in Minnesota has to offer many high-end extras that might not be offered in other states. I think the article should have made that clear.

  7. jlowe

    “If Each of Us Planted a Tree, Would it Slow Global Warming?”

    I keep a pollinator garden. Does that count?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder what would happen if you told people that to help save the planet, that we would have to go back to living how we did back in the pre-plastics 1950s? A few provisos first – we would not live with the social attitudes and mores of that era (we would still have our 21st century version) and we would still have tech toys to amuse us. But for example houses would shrink from the present 2,700 square feet back down to about 950 square feet. We would have fewer possessions as we would have fewer spaces to store them in but we would value them more and tend to keep them.
      I think that most people would freak out at this idea.

      1. inode_buddha

        Dunno, I would love it. Not because of environmental reasons, but because stuff made back then tended to have real value, and could easily be repaired by the owner.

      2. a different chris

        Most, yeah, but a large majority? Maybe not.

        And the “kids today” are living in their same old bedrooms at 25 so a 950 sq ft house might sound nice. They can’t fix their own cars (or tractors, family blog John Deere) anymore so “walking distance” and the wi-fi bus seems pretty attractive.

        Us olds just aren’t dying off fast enough is the problem. I’m apparently trying to do my part, but there are still a few things I want to do so I’m taking all my pills and making my appointments. Still…I don’t think the world on balance would miss us if all the over-50s were just raptured away.

        1. ambrit

          The problem with ‘rapturing’ all the over-50s is that the society would lose most of it’s “genuine” institutional memory. What would be left for the younger cohorts would be top down manipulated ‘pseudo-memory.’
          “Who controls the past, controls the future.” George Orwell.

      3. bronco

        Daniel Tosh did a bit about it a decade ago on a comedy special. He says global warming is the fault of the Amish. People look at the Amish and say um no I’m not going to do anything that leads to that lifestyle

      4. Phacops

        Being an enthusiast for outdoor recreation I would not mind if we went back to train service to national parks and public transportation within them. Also, pre 1950 there were a lot of resort areas with dedicated train service. French Lick IN comes to mind, with some trains direct from Chicago, where even today one can see some of the grand old hotels. Pluto water came from there, a natural, strongly laxative, mineral water.

      5. Lord Koos

        People would have to make huge changes in lifestyle. Before plastics things were made of wood and metal, but that would not work today, far too many people and not enough trees and resources.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          don’t forget glass and earthenware.
          aside from the plastics i have no control over(ie: packaging), our biggest use of the stuff is things like ziplocs and tupperware type things…for leftovers(cooking for an army is a hard habit to break…and some dishes/ingredients lend themselves to quantity=leftovers, that end up in tomorrow’s fare)
          i have a few corningware bits, with lids, from the 60’s that we still use for this, and abundant mason jars…but these are not sufficient for what we do around here.(we also sprung for glass baby bottles, reused them for second son, and have them packed carefully away for eventual grandkids)
          for trashbags, we use used feedsacks(which are mostly plastic, any way)
          prolly 98% of the plastic we use was decided upon upstream from us.
          i’d be more than happy to return to a metal housing for my computer, for instance, and it wouldn’t bother me overmuch to have a wooden housing for the landline phone.
          i also prefer metal for the vehicles(especially for the boys) instead of frelling plastic.
          of course, if i had my way, our going to town conveyance would be a buckboard and a couple of mules…but we are far from that.

          1. Lord Koos

            Earthenware is good, but isn’t sand needed to make glass? Sand is another diminishing resource. Given that there are nearly 7 billion people on the planet at present, I still doubt there would be enough resources to go around if plastic was eliminated.

            Our local recycling service has now stopped accepting glass, which seems crazy. Why aren’t there bottle deposits everywhere?

            1. Wukchumni

              Have you watched recycling disappearing from retail?

              I’ll eat Chinese food @ Panda Express once in awhile, and a recycling bin that used to be prominent, is nowhere now.

              Tantamount to a fashion statement of something no longer in fervor, which was for all intents & purposes, the only thing any of us did in a voluntary environmental effort, the blue bins banished to the nether regions, hopefully recycled.

            2. Susan the other`

              Korean “ongi” (I think that’s the spelling) is good. Heavy earthenware for fermenting soy and cabbage, for cooking and for eating. But firing clay, high fire especially, takes lotsa wood. They say that Japan was deforested by the potters for firewood back around 10,000 years ago. Doesn’t take long to use up a forest. Like pottery was the first heavy industry; the first forge – not to smelt and melt but to vitrify. And who knows? carved wooden jars and other wares might have been just as useful. Various stone jars and bowls exist from way back as well. It’s overwhelming to think how far we have to retreat to live sustainably.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                you can fire clay using “slash”(leftover waste wood), sawdust or even bamboo charcoal…that grows back in under a year.
                you can also use the latter to forge metal(i’ve done this)
                and glass used to be rather easily recyclable…sort it, melt it, and away you go(knew a glass blower, long ago, who used trash glass in his art)…i’m sure there are details that i’m unaware of…and the Machine may have done something to “modern” glass in recent times…but silica never dies.
                and anyway, we’re still using mason jars that my grandmother bought in the 50’s(for non-food things,seed saving, screws and nuts and bolts and whatnot… but only because we have ample new stuff—I’m a habitual jar-saver)
                lasts a whole lot longer than plastic.
                and when a glass coke bottle gets tossed on a beach, it takes prolly just as long to break down into constituents as a plastic coke bottle…but the former turns back into sand eventually…not “nano-plastics”.

          2. Lord Koos

            We shop at Costco every month or so, and they are terrible with the amount of plastic packaging. I recently bought three USB sticks from Costco that were packaged in a ridiculously huge 12″ x 12″ plastic laminated display card. With their purchasing power it seems like Costco could be a leader in forcing suppliers to cut back on the plastic.

            Costco and Walmart also probably sell more bottled water than anyone, and it’s all in 12 oz single-use containers.

            1. Anon

              Umm, the 12×12 laminated card is intentional. It keeps the thumb drives out of some shoppers pockets.

            2. Anthony G Stegman

              The huge packaging is intentional in an effort to deter theft. In our decaying society theft is an ever growing problem.

      6. jrs

        Shrug. We are to the point here that we are going to eventually get statewide rent control, actually already have some very weak tea measures (although I’m not convinced rent control is the ideal solution) simply because even though over 50% of the population rents, rents keep increasing as does the homeless population and affordable rents have become a pipe dream. That backlash is coming from people unable to even afford shelter increasingly. And I’m supposed to worry about people living in McMansions and whether they might have to be a tiny bit less wasteful? Give me a break.

      7. Jack Parsons

        Really, if you want to know the future 1st world lifestyle, go to Cuba. They got isolated with mid-50s technology and learned how to keep fixing it. They’re not doing badly.

      8. ObjectiveFunction

        I’ve been spending a lot of time in Singapore in 2019, and marveling at the rich neighborhood hive life in the HDB public housing complexes. These are neither spacious nor luxurious, but they’re clean and safe. Residents may also avail of fantastic public transit, plus local public services centres and, last but not least, hawker courts which provide a neighborhood pub atmosphere. These last also bring generations and races together daily to eat and drink (I see many many mixed race couples). By relieving families of the daily duty of cooking, they contribute to gender equality. Lastly, there are numerous scale benefits in consumption, transport, carbon footprint etc.

        None of the above will surprise cafe culture Europeans: as ‘they’ say, Parisians do only 2 things at home (and one of them isn’t bathing).

        But I often wonder whether this model couldn’t somehow be introduced to terminally car-fornicated / bowling alone / paranoid of strangers Amerika. Perhaps start somewhere like San Jose, with affordable hi rise rentals built around mass transit hubs (to break residents of the cars that fracture everyone into their own wasteful little bubbles). Millenial techies can get used to coexisting with immigrant families and Section 8 folks (including increasing numbers of elderly). Everyone shops online, so retail is minimal.

        ….A large police presence and metal detectors in public spaces would be essential at first, cuz you know, Amerika. And the housing authority would need to be able to expel bad actors without a decade of red tape and lawsuits, to ensure civil order.

        You may say I’m [a dreamer] Richard Florida….

    2. TD

      Every garden and every tree counts. I could quibble with the premise of the article and say, what if every person in the rich world planted or paid for the planting of a hundred trees? The math improves considerably.

      B.C. and Alberta planted a billion and a half trees last year, in part to patch up the damage done by fires and bark beetles. The disadvantage of mass plantings by governments is that they tend to create monocultures and the like.

      Individuals and small groups are capable of planting multiple species and of taking into account the landscape and soil type of small areas. I commend and pray for anyone who undertakes that task.

        1. a different chris

          I’ve been thinking about bees too.

          One thing, I don’t know whether to start it when my wife is really happy with me or when she’s really p*ssed at me! :)

  8. Stephen Gardner

    On the article “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Greta Thunberg”. The lip service game is the new way of dealing with difficult problems. I’m reminded of the “Thank you for your service.” nonsense. Why do people say that? It allows them to absolve themselves of the profound responsibility for the maintenance of empire. They sit at home, warm and comfy while others suffer for the empire. The existence of the volunteer military makes it possible to painlessly, give lip support to an empire, the existence of people like Greta Thunberg and the climate striking students makes it possible to painlessly give lip support to changes we have no intention of making. Anyone want to buy a climate indulgence?

    1. Whoamolly

      I struggled with how to reply to thank you for your service.

      Finally I just started saying “You are welcome” and smiling briefly.

      It’s simplest, fastest way to get past it.

      1. a different chris

        When I wind up in the vicinity of somebody in uniform I just say…… “hi” — and talk about the weather, or the line we’re in. AKA just have a normal conversation, if one at all.

        I’m really beginning to think they appreciate that.

  9. Amfortas the hippie

    in the 538 article about how POC just love the corporate dems:
    he says over and over that young black people prefer centrists…which, if i remember right, is the polar opposite of white young people.
    no explanation, of course, since this isn’t mentioned in the article…and the fear promoted by msdnc, dnc,CAP et alia isn’t mentioned either.
    another mystification, like that used by essentially the same sort of punditry to marvel at the rabid right for “voting against their interests”.
    except this is seen as obviously pragmatic…hillary,etc “building ties to the black community” forgets “superpredators” and the crime bill and private prisons and bankruptcy “reform” and subprime targeting and on and on.
    it was in 2015 that i noticed the sudden proliferation on FB, and such, of defenders of wishywashy centrism getting their dander up, and policing the narrative with a will(thou shalt not criticise billary or obama).
    this was after doing a rather intensive rummage(including a 7 year virtual field study) into the American Right…and it was shocking to see the same herd behaviour, and herd management techniques, from the erstwhile “left”.
    then there were third wayist troll farms…just like likud and the tea party and the randian freemarketers…
    i have no real point, here…save that the 50 year mindf^^k rolls on without a hitch, and has gone totally mainstream and obvious…the ptb shoveling tons of mud and $hit into the waters we all swim in…this feels like something out of the frankfurt school, regarding the failure of the Enlightenment Project.
    I remain with habermas, however…what we need is More Enlightenment.
    think i’ll put on the Bach all out in the trees and pull up the spent tomato vines.
    “we must cultivate our garden”-Voltaire

        1. a different chris

          That’s because they are afraid that you might get the wrong idea and inflict Kenny G on them…

  10. a different chris

    Well WalMart health care, I guess that’s what we deserve. Actually I expect it isn’t all that bad and is the type of weed that you would expect to grow thru the cracks of an abandoned structure.

    Anyway the weirdest thing ever in my life happened this week. I got a call from BCBS on Tuesday about my hospital procedure Wednesday. The call was to tell me in advance how much my out-of-pocket would be. This was not instigated by anything I did, I was really confused by it.

    They must be terrified.

    1. katiebird

      Coming from an insurance company, does that mean that you won’t be getting bills from out of network doctors? I got a call like that from a hospital but it didn’t include doctors bills.

      1. a different chris

        In Pittsburgh we seem to be pretty armed against “out of network” charges… but lordy that doesn’t mean zero possibility. Think I’ll be OK.

    2. Kevin

      it will really get interesting once you compare the phone quote you received to your final bill….
      btw; I hope things go well for you.

    3. ambrit

      Act like a car repair ‘customer.’ Demand the ‘quote’ in writing. Also, did the call say that you would not be treated until after the deductible was paid?

      1. a different chris

        No they treated me but they did try to get me to pay up front. I snapped “bill me” at the poor woman at the desk who probably makes 1/6 my income, now I’m embarrassed thinking about it.

        It’s not her fault.

        1. ambrit

          “It’s not her fault.”
          Um, well, as I have heard it put; “People were hanged at Nuremberg for claiming to be just following orders.”
          This is not an easy situation to deal with, from either side of the exchange.
          Granted, it is not fair to demand that the lowly functionaries voluntarily submit to suffering when their overlords skate off scot-free. The optimal strategy would be to spread the suffering evenly from bottom to top of the hierarchy. But then, that would be revolutionary thinking. s/ Can’t have that. /s
          Still, glad you had it done when you could.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Judging from the number scary government-run health care ads I am seeing on YouTube, I would agree. The health insurance industry is terrified.

      1. Pat

        They should be. The trope that people like their employer supplied insurance is rapidly coming undone. As more and more insured but not covered or still going bankrupt stories surface large numbers of people recognize they don’t really have healthcare but overpriced insurance.

        Everyday our for profit healthcare system shoots itself in an available extremity again. They cannot help themselves. (And insurance companies are just one part of our problem.)

        The necessary fixes to stabilize ACA and pull it out of its extreme death spiral and into just a mild downward death path would be as unacceptable as MFA to those who profit from the current unsustainable version. And even that just saves it for another two term Presidental administration.

        And either way more and more businesses will be on the single payer bandwagon as years go by. their position is just as precarious as that for individuals.

        1. ambrit

          Then you get faced with the impossible task of figuring out which doctors are the witch doctors.

    1. Wukchumni

      A completely different kind of ‘Swift-boding’, and not that I know anything about the subject matter, but baby ‘veal’ must taste so much better than say, eating the rich.

          1. Carey

            Ah, Monsanto’s People Mover! What a blast from the past; I remember it well, from ’68 or so, way before I knew just what an evil Corp Monsanto is.

            Thanks, Wuk.

            1. Jack Parsons

              Yup, the Monsanto ride was an “A-ticket ride”, the cheapest level. I remember taking it in (I think) ’71. We went to LA to look at the earthquake devastation and hit D-Land.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “It’s Very Unethical”: Audio Shows Hospital Kept Vegetative Patient on Life Support to Boost Survival Rates”

    ‘Newark Beth Israel doesn’t bill insurers until a patient is discharged. So, for the time being, the hospital was absorbing the cost of Young’s stay.’ Not quite true that. I am willing to bet that the staggering amounts burned up to keep this guy going were charged to every patient that went through the doors of Newark Beth Israel via padded bills. These other patients were just not told of this ‘donation’.

  12. Wukchumni

    Fossil fuel deposits in California are from a few million to around 100 million years old, and we’re off tomorrow on a dayhike to glimpse sea fossils from the Norian age, an epoch of around 225 million years ago.

    The goods are at around 9,500 feet and about a thousand feet below a ridgeline, where surf was up, dude.

  13. Wukchumni

    Opera win-free notwithstanding (we do loves our viral virtual signalling vis a vis a plethora of donations)

    I don’t tend to see music being much in the lives of homeless that i’ve seen-as in playing a harmonica, guitar, etc., how are your observations?

    1. ambrit

      Around here, when homeless ‘music’ is in evidence, it is of the “Player and Earbuds” type. Command performances as it were.

  14. New Wafer Army

    RE: MONEY CAN’T BUY EU LOVE Brexit – Boris Johnson pleads with EU chiefs to shift after making big money offer to Ireland to seal 11th hour deal

    From The Sun ‘newspaper’:

    Some senior EU figures are secretly pressing Ireland to accept Mr Johnson’s money offer as they are growing tired of how Irish politics is log-jamming Brexit.

    One senior Eastern European diplomat said: “It is time this all comes to a conclusion. Dublin have a lot of leverage now, they should use it and name their price.”

    Is there anyway to force a newspaper to reveal it’s source? This is just so obviously made up, it is mind-boggling. Basically the Sun gets to lie and pretend someone else said it. Can anyone help me out here?

  15. It bites but the truth always has

    In 2008 Warren quietly wrote a paper saying single-payer is smart but “politically unacceptable.” In 2012, when it was still politically unacceptable, she publicly said she was against single-payer. Then in 2017, when it was finally politically acceptable, she got on board.

    Huh, a politician responding to pressure from her perceived voter base (as apposed to her constituents (IE: MONEY)). Sounds just like what Sanders has been saying, he can’t change the system, only the people getting off their arse can.

    1. Pat

      So let me get this straight. The policy wonk recognized that the policy was in the best interest of the voters but chose to table it because she didn’t care enough to actually attempt to change the political map on it. But I am supposed to give her credit for sticking her fingers in the air and recognizing that the voters got there on their own and now the politically acceptable route of ignoring their voters needs is rapidly becoming a losing position with the populace so now is the time to pander. (Sorry but support an inch wide and a millimeter deep so willing to table change indefinitely is where we are at with Warren.)

    2. NigelK

      One would hope for better judgement from a progressive champion than someone who sat through 8 years of Reagan and 4 of Bush 41 and thought “this is fine” until her mid-40s.
      Sanders 2020

      1. Massinissa

        To be fair, at least in my experience, there are plenty of Democrats who like Reagan for whatever reason. Though it may partially be because everyone I know was either a child or not alive at the time.

        1. pretzelattack

          that’s probably why but warren has no such excuse. there is no reason whatever for anybody who claims to be leftist at all to like reagan.

  16. Olga

    Good to know that economic hit men are alive and well and doing their job:
    “U.S. lobbied Indonesia for Visa, Mastercard – Reuters

    The U.S. lobbying of Indonesia helped loosen local regulations opposed by card networks Visa (NYSE:V) and Mastercard (NYSE:MA), Reuters reports. The change means U.S. card companies can process transactions without a local partner, making for a more lucrative arrangement. The U.S. Trade Representative tied the rule changes to Indonesia keeping a privileged trade status that gets the country lower tariffs on $2B in annual exports to the U.S.”

  17. J. Kosmos

    “If Each of Us Planted a Tree, Would It Slow Global Warming? Wired (David L, Robert M)”

    Very naive article. What needs to be done is every nation on earth, mainly through agroforestry practices and restoration of forests, planting hundreds of millions of trees each every year and then turning those trees into a carbon pump by turning a lot of that wood into biochar and burying it to increase the carbon content of the soils. When you do this the equation becomes a whole different thing. Actually Albert Bates over at has had a friend, mathematician, whos name I cant remember do the calculations for that scenario and the results are hopefull. He just released a book based on those calculations called Burn: How To Use Fire To Cool The Earth.

  18. Amfortas the hippie

    “how dare those commies criticise us for our blatant perfidy!”

    of course, the commies in question are led by a former hillary guy,lol.

    and this caught my eye(break from cleaning garden beds):

    same as it ever was…just worse.
    i lived in a van for 5+ years, due to essentially being exiled from my hometown….and i was homeless for almost a year in austin, after my last paycheck from collegetown bounced, causing a cascade of hot checks(including rent check)….still can’t serve on a jury, because my record says “THEFT!”,lol(from the $19 check i missed, due to not having an address)
    for a “liberal,progressive city”, austin is terrible on this issue.

    and a final note, close to my heart:

    regarding the abandonment of rural america, especially by the left…and the dems(out here, hatred of billary began, not with faux news, but with the 98(?) farm bill, which killed the peanut subsidy, which began a local depression that still echoes and ripples around us, today)

  19. Carolinian

    Re The New Republic and Thunberg–I don’t watch a lot of TV so I’m out of the loop but perhaps one thing that rubs people the wrong way is not her youth but her hyperbole. She says

    This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.

    But is it? Some of us can remember when people her age carried “Ban the Bomb” signs and thought that was the biggest crisis humanity ever faced. And they were right. Global warming will be a disaster and perhaps extinguish many animal species (not ours), but there was a time–perhaps this same time–when nuclear winter threatened to eliminate all life or nearly so. We have forgotten all about that last greatest crisis in the leftysphere while ubiquitously embracing this new one. Perhaps you can’t blame some for seeing it as short attention span theater.

    Serious problems need serious discussion and serious spokespeople to be taken seriously. Greta has a right to protest and be heard on behalf of her generation. That doesn’t make her a scientist though, or her pronouncements holy writ.

    1. Monty

      What do you make of the data at Arctic News?
      Runaway climate change might be worse than threat of nuclear war. I am agnostic, but if the science behind the idea is correct, we wont be able to stop the negative feedback loops once the tipping point is reached. We always have the option to not have a nuclear war.

    2. Harold

      I started marching Anti-nuclear demonstrations at age of 13 when I heard that the children of my mother’s Swedish friend in London were doing it. Initially people threw rocks at us.

      1. Lord Koos

        In 1967 I recall a peace march (anti-Vietnam war) in our rural college town where some of the locals threw rocks at the marchers.

    3. Massinissa

      Honestly, I really don’t think its hyperbole. And even if it IS hyperbole, its easily the 2nd greatest threat humanity has ever faced. Surely 2nd worst is close enough?

    4. newcatty

      Hmmm, when I protested against the Viet Nam War, when in college, I was not an expert or scholar in the fields of public and goverment policies, international relationships, foreign policy, or military strategies. I was a teen aged young woman, who truly was anti-war and believed that war was abominable. If I recall correctly, Greta emphasized that she wanted the PTB in all nations, to “listen to the science ( or scientists).” This doesn’t appear to be her having any claim to her being a scientist. I seriously doubt that she would see her”pronouncements holy writ”. Her dedication to the crisis that Global warming is for the life on planet earth does not therefore negate the other crises of , for example, possible nuclear winter. If Greta is being used by elites for their own agendas, then that is disgusting and sad. She, herself, can still be genuinely sincere. I think most of the other young people are, too.

  20. nippersdad

    While I am certainly no fan of Trump, how does this new Ukraine kerfuffle fit within the framework of our treaty with Ukraine on mutual assistance in criminal matters? Surely under this he would have every legal right to investigate the RussiaGate conspiracy theory in Ukraine should he so choose.

    Seems like any trial in the Senate would almost immediately get deep sixed upon the production of this treaty. Not that they would do so immediately, the fun they would have bringing in witnesses as to the Nazi coup for Monsanto instigated by the Obama Administration and overseen by Biden and Clinton, would be irresistable. I don’t see how he could pass up such an opportunity.

    They wanted an imperial presidency, now they get to see what one look like.

    1. marym

      Minimally wouldn’t using this as justification require that he’d acted in accordance with the terms of the treaty, and also not possibly broken any other laws along the way? Here’s commentary relating to the former.

      1. nippersdad

        When has Trump ever been known to follow process? This is a guy who uses his own family as his primary advisors.

        Not sayiing that there isn’t a point there, but if he was asking for an investigation into the basis of the RussiaGate conspiracy theory, one cannot exactly say that there wasn’t a domestic investigation. We went through two years of that and it should surprise no one that he would want one of his own.

        1. marym

          A treaty shouldn’t be invoked as a “legal right” to justify doing something, but brushed off as a “process” to justify not complying with its terms.

          Reminds me of Obama-Holder on due process not needing to include the “of law” part (Link).

  21. flora


    Moreover, there are no subpoenas. As Secretary Pompeo observed in his fittingly tart response on Tuesday, what the committee chairmen issued was merely a letter. Its huffing and puffing notwithstanding, the letter is nothing more than an informal request for voluntary cooperation. Legally, it has no compulsive power. If anything, it is rife with legal deficiencies.

    … the House is not conducting a formal impeachment inquiry. They are using the guise of frenetic activity by several standing committees — Intelligence, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and Ways and Means — whose normal oversight functions are being gussied up to look like serious impeachment business.

    But standing committees do have subpoena power, so why not use it? Well, because subpoenas get litigated in court when the people or agencies on the receiving end object. Democrats want to have an impeachment show — um, inquiry — on television; they do not want to defend its bona fides in court.

    I remember the House hearings on the vote to impeach Nixon after a long investigation complete with subpoenas. This is not that. This is theater, imo.

    1. Carolinian

      You beat me to it (see Water Cooler). I too remember the Watergate hearings which were elaborately bipartisan. IMO this is Trump’s strongest counterargument and he’s already making it.

  22. Ignacio

    RE: Could this plastic-eating enzyme be the miracle solution to our plastic problem? Fast Company (David L)

    For those of you interested on the enzymatic degradation of plastics I strongly recommend a recent review on PET degrading enzymes and applications on waste treatment. Free article.

    I worked for several years on the enzymatic degradation of plant cell walls including cutinases involved in cuticule degradation by plant pathogens as their way to enter the host. The challenges of PET enzymatic degrading are similar to cellulose degradation and have been investigated for about 20 years, so I don’t give much credibility when someone says that someone has discovered the miracolous plastic-degrading enzyme cos they are known from long ago.

    Yet the process is cumbersome, requires energy spending (reactions at temperatures above 60ºC, physical grounding…) and requires enormous amounts of enzymes. I think it has a future and degrading plastics to their monomeric constituent molecules is the ideal pathway for plastic recycling.

    Yet, the elephant in the room may not be recycling, but avoiding plastics being released to the environment. The review linked before provides a link to a paper titled The New Plastics Economy that contains useful data on the current situation of plastic wastes.

  23. barrisj

    Re: Medicare Advantage…we recently received our 2020 coverage docs from KaiserPermanente, who have been administering our Advantage enrollment full-time since its buyout of WA-based Group Health in 2017. This year, after stable rates for the past two years, our premiums went down 60% – a rather pleasant surprise – for 2020, with no change in basic coverage. As with the people in FL, there is little that isn’t provided with our particular Advantage plan, as there is a wide-ranging umbrella of general and specialized medical practices “within network”, and for these two seniors, it’s the best incentive to remain where we live, despite being ca. a 1000 miles away from most of our family and old friends. It’s today’s America, don’t you know, and quality healthcare is the overwhelming variable to consider regarding place of residence.

    1. Off The Street

      Glad to read about a reduction in premiums, didn’t expect to see those!
      Did your coverage docs include the zip code pricing that features in some other Kaiser service areas? Adjoining zips in the same approximate radius of the local Kaiser facility see differential pricing, because they can.

      Moral of the story: You can pay more because we know you can pay more, so pay more.

      1. barrisj

        From what I can determine, Kaiser “service areas” are county-based in WA, and, yes, there are premium differentials, but we have always had the same address since coverage began, so I can’t attest to cost differences amongst service areas.

  24. Kurt Sperry

    “When, a few years ago, I started reviewing websites to see how often they were later proved correct, or their predictions turned out true, I was able to pare down my engagement a great deal. A lot of confirmation bias got flushed. There’s still less than a dozen.”

    Interesting post! You know the question already but, what are those most retrospectively reliable sources besides NC? I’m probably not the only one curious to know.

    1. Steve H.

      NC is my home base for news. Fcbk for family pics, scroll over politics. Reddit for funny, nature pics, & zeitgeist/memes.
      (put in your own zip code)

      Individuals are still subject to Dunning-Kruger when they go outside their areas; with that caveat:
      David Crystal (Shakespeare), Renee Ellory (Eyes for Lies), John Michael Greer (Archdruid), Jalen & Jacoby, Kevin Kelly/cooltools, Don Lancaster (tinaja), Cory Morningstar, Odum (prosperouswaydown), John Robb, Peter Turchin.

      A couple of those were added, some fell off my regular reading. Some went off-grid, as for the others, three reasons: despair, repetitiveness, or paywalled beyond my interest: Mark Ames, Henry Abbot (truehoop), Fabius Maximus, Keith Johnson (permaculture), John Stauber, Ian Welsh, and that one guy whose name I can’t remember. (RIP Jay Hanson)

      Continued single-post: Qiao Liang (

      NC mods requested no posts from two others, being concerned about veracity, and I respect their boundaries; one medical, one bodylanguage.

      In all this, I used archives to check past posts and test against outcomes. It took a lot of time but was worth it. Confirmation bias meant severing ties with old favorites. Also note, things can change. I used to donate to NRDC and Nature Conservancy, but they were taken over and turned into zombies; the same has happened for websites.

  25. noonespecial

    Re New Republic article William Barr

    The article in today’s links includes this: “The irony is that Barr, more than any of his predecessors since the Watergate era, seems to think that his job is to help discredit his boss’ political opponents.”

    Recently, the Village Voice re-published an article from October 27, 1992 (title: “Attorney General William Barr is the Best Reason to Vote for Clinton”)

    A few quotes from the article outline Barr’s élan as a willing courtier in service to the resident-in-charge at 1600 Penn. Avenue, and not simply to “help discredit his boss’ political opponents.”

    From the Voice’s article:
    On other fronts, displays of partisan ex­cess under Barr’s stewardship are becoming bolder, more transparent. Last summer, in deference to the administration’s anti-regu­lation agenda, the attorney general himself overruled the EPA and his own staff and wrote an interpretation of the Clean Air Act that dismantled its most important pol­lution regulation. He also took another im­perious swipe at the immigration issue by helping devise a new policy that authorizes the Coast Guard to intercept Haitian refu­gees on the high seas and return them to their island. The initiative was a response to the flood of refugees unleashed by the military coup in Haiti last fall.

    Flogging another conservative hobby­horse, Barr fought hard as deputy AG to keep federal courts from expanding their right to review state criminal convictions on writs of habeas corpus.”

    only the best people. /s/

  26. ewmayer

    “Nationalism Is an Environmental Disaster | Vice” — So only transnational capitalism can save us? I realize that’s not what the author is saying in so many words, but laying the blame for wars, resource depletion and the myriad of other things that ail us at the feet of “blind nationalism” is disingenuous in the extreme. How’s that “blind globalization” thing been working out for us by way of an alternative model? Perhaps that has something to do with the recrudescence in recent years of nationalism?

    1. Olga

      Yeah, it’s like Limbaugh blaming US economic problems on immigrants and femi-nazis (or whatever term it was he used). Clearly, there’s no end to creative source of problem deflection.

  27. ewmayer

    “US data crashes stock market, threatens Trump | Asia Times” — Puhleeze … I commented on these kinds of fearmongering headlines in yesterday’s Links. A mere 3% pullback in grossly overvalued stawk indices and the sky-is-falling headlines begin. And half of said pullback was erased today. “Crash”, LOL – you’d think the headline writer for the Asia Times was born in 2010, and never heard of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

  28. Anon

    RE: They’re Retired. They’re Insured. The Government Pays for It.

    This is a Links article that relates to one of the Posted articles. Informative, this one.

    In it you will see how and why Medicare Advantage plans are growing: like minded population (retirement community), easy medical access (onsite medical center), and a dedicated medical staff. Mostly paid for through Medicare funding. You may come to understand that these folks have dedicated (stable) pensions and very good health. (Unlike most of the US population.)

    The last paragraph is telling. A resident says he likes his Advantage plan because he doesn’t make any monthly payments. Not true! Medicare requires a monthly payment; it is subtracted from Social Security checks BEFORE you receive them. Ignorance is Bliss.

  29. nihil obstet

    Basic income denied in Ontario openDemocracy. One of the reasons we have not supported a UBI. It is too easily depicted as welfare, which makes it vulnerable to being cut. By contrast, people who choose to work under a Job Guarantee will be providing services, like planting trees, day care, elder care, which will develop constituencies that will defend the program.

    I don’t understand how the reasoning lines up with any reality. A cash payment to other people is vulnerable. A universal payment is robust — look at Alaska, where the universal basic income, being universal, is maybe too robust. All residents constitute a solid constituency.

    I’d also note that in my state, jobs that do have strong constituencies can be cut. In schools, for example, it’s not just the teachers’ aides or art and music teachers, but also what you would think were concerns for children’s welfare, like nurses.

    The statement here about how the world works is more reminiscent of mainstream economists’ description of the world than of anything I’ve seen.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Bullshit. You are displaying your ignorance of the Job Guarantee, which is the brainchild of MMT (seriously non mainstream) economists such as Randy Wray, Stephanie Kelton, and Pavlina Tchervina. I suggest you bone up on it rather than putting your foot in mouth and chewing.

      You also did just that with your uninformed assertions about Alaska.

      Using Alaska as a basis for anything is completely disingenuous. It has a tiny population and a unique “Alaska Permanent Fund” which is basically a trust based on oil revenues. Its situation is getting less rosy due to both lower shipments through the Trans-
      Alaska pipeline and lower oil prices. From a 2015 Atlantic article:

      This state has more money in the bank than most small countries. Decades of collecting royalties and revenues from the companies that drilled for oil on its slopes have endowed Alaska with a $50 billion savings account. Residents pay neither income nor sales tax, and every October, they get a check from the government simply for living in Alaska—this year, the check could total $2,000.

      This was never conceived as a basic income but as royalties to state residents for state assets which were going to be depleted. The payments are often described as a dividend.

      The cost of living in Anchorage is 137 when the index is 100 for the US average. So that annual payment is not only not close to a living wage, it isn’t even enough to make up for the cost premium of living in Alaska v. the rest of the US.

      And Alaska proves the point that any stipend can be cut, undermining your claims completely:

      Most notably, [then Governor] Walker reduced the amount Alaskans received from the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

      The new governor wants to have this year’s payment be $3000 as a make-up for the unpopular three year cuts, but he is having to slash the state budget so radically to do so that that is leading to another backlash:

      The problem is that by paying a dividend of $3,000 to Alaskans, major spending reductions or eliminations to basic services must be imposed, despite rebounding oil prices and a $65 billion savings account…

      That fund can either pay $3,000 dividends to every Alaska resident, or it can pay for government services. It can’t do both.

      Better trolls, please.

  30. Jack Parsons

    The way I think about welfare programs and constituencies is there is a trade-off: the more programs there are, the more civil servant organizations there are fighting, while being poor and using these programs gets more and more complex.

  31. George Phillies

    “Why It’s So Hard to Build Trust In Government Washington Monthly (resilc). How about 40 years of conservative marketing that government = theft? ”

    Surely after your coverage of CalPers we can all see how trustworthy our governments are?

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