Links 11/17/19

Bats, broccoli and bombs haunt ‘Ghost Stations’ Asia Times

Octopus outsmarts testers in intelligence experiment TreeHugger. Watch the cool embedded video.

Who Needs Literature? LA Review of Books. Isaac Bashevis Singer from 1963.

Inventing a God Lapham’s Quarterly

l’affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew: I didn’t have sex with teenager, I was home after Pizza Express in Woking/ Guardian. Alrighty. Glad he’s cleared that up.

“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”. Craig Murray

Plans for Tesla Plant Jostle German Car Industry Der Spiegel

Class Warfare

Robert Reich: Billionaires Don’t Actually Like Capitalism Truthdig

Google, Fitbit, Banking: Big Tech’s Bust Out? BIG. Matt Stoller.

The most remote emergency room: Life and death in rural America WaPo

The End of Babies NYT (Bob)

Acqua Alta

Venice Inundated by Historic Flooding: In Pictures Bloomberg

Extinction Rebellion Sends a Sinking Home Along the River Thames, Warning of Climate Disaster Hyperallergic (re Silc)

New satellite measurements show how polluted Los Angeles’ air really is Phys.org

Waste Watch

How recycling has changed in all 50 states Waste Dive

Syraqistan

Erdogan’s ethnic cleansing of the Kurds is still happening now – and we have Trump to thank Independent, Patrick Cockburn.

One killed as protests erupt after Iran hikes petrol prices Al Jazeera

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates Independent. Robert Fisk.

The Hugely Important OPCW Scandal Keeps Unfolding. Here’s Why No One’s Talking About It. Caitlin Johnstone. UserFriendly: “The interesting part is the US spooks, presumably without Trumps blessing, pressuring the OPCW. The whole charade was orchestrated because Trump wanted out of Syria IIRC. If that isn’t confirmation of a deep state, friendly with Al Qaeda no less, I dunno what is. In anything approaching a sane world that would be every headline.”

The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors Counterpunch

Saudi Arabia is ‘gradually running out of money’ and needs IPO to fund reforms, ex-CIA chief says CNBC (Furzy)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

A Paranoid Guide to Fighting the ‘Bugging Epidemic’ NYT

In Saudi Arabia, Twitter becomes more useful to the repressors than the repressed WaPo

Health Care

Gougers ‘R’ Us: How Private Equity Is Gobbling Up Medical Care American Conservative

Study Finds Limited Benefits of Stent Use for Millions With Heart Disease WSJ

Julian Assange

Arbuthnot Out as Assange’s Judge, Says Wikileaks Lawyer Jen Robinson Consortium News

737 MAX

Boeing settles several more lawsuits over Max plane crashes Fox

Grenfell Tower Redux

2020

HOUNDING OFF North Korea calls Joe Biden a ‘rabid dog’ who should be ‘beaten to death with a stick’ in latest attack on Trump’s rival The Sun. I’m no Joe Biden fan, but even I think this is a bit extreme.

Bloomberg Will Spend $100 Million on Anti-Trump Online Ad Blitz NYT (furzy)

Too Far Left? Some Candidates Don’t Buy the Argument NYT (UserFriendly)

Deval Patrick’s first win: Not getting booed at California’s Democratic convention Politico

Iowa Poll: Pete Buttigieg rockets to the top of the 2020 field as a clear front-runner Des Moines Register

Michael Bloomberg in the White House? China might say thanks, but no thanks SCMP (furzy)
UserFriendly:

China?

PLA soldiers sent onto streets of Hong Kong for first time since protests began – to help clear roadblocks near Kowloon Tong garrison SCMP

India

As Delhi pollution levels soar, customers throng an ‘oxygen bar’ for a breath of fresh air Scroll. People who spend much time in India already drink bottled (or filtered) water. Now, they but clean air as well.

Centre not to release consumer expenditure survey due to data quality issues; to soon unveil base year for new series of GDP First Post

‘I was born in garbage, I will die in garbage’ People’s Archive of Rural India

Impeachment

The Brennan Dossier: All About a Prime Mover of Russiagate Real Clear Investigations (TP)

How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry WaPo

Despite a Jewish President, Ukraine keeps honoring Nazi collabos (with a bit of help from America) Immigrants as a Weapon

Trump Transition
Amazon Says It Didn’t Get a $10 Billion Contract Because Trump Hates Bezos Vice

Newly uncovered tax documents show Trump kept ‘2 sets of books’ and may have committed financial fraud Business Insider (furzy)

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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207 comments

  1. uncle tungsten

    To the US southern command. STFU and get your stinking, polluting, interfering bases out of everyone elses country. Account for the 23 trillion missing dollars before you ask anyone to honor their constitution. Thieving military industrial complex go home.

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Chile. El Salvador. Honduras. Haiti. Bolivia.

      “Open Veins Of Latin America: 500 Years Of The Rape Of A Continent” by Eduardo Galeano should be required reading before you are allowed to graduate high school.

      Reply
    2. Danny

      Cut ’em some slack man, they are well intentioned.

      Troops from the Southern Command will be arresting Google execs, hate speech censors, DHS agents and airport granny-gropers any minute now that their sudden urge to protect constitutions and the people they protect has become evident.

      Think globally, but act locally. Think of the fuel savings. :-)

      Reply
    3. D. Fuller

      The military does its job: follows orders. If the military did not do its job and did what it wanted?

      Bolivia and a military coup. Or Chile 1973, except in America 2019.

      The problem is not the military. The problem are the politicians. The REAL problem are the voters who SAY they don’t want war… yet keep electing the very same politicians who do send our soldiers to places like Syria and Africa.

      I met many Obama and Trump voters who keep saying: recall the military to America. Yet they keep voting otherwise; for Presidents and Congress Members who toady to corporate power in using the military to promote their corporate interests.

      As a veteran, if we had our way? We’d have long ago removed The President and Congress to straighten out the mess voters create in America’s tabloid political culture. However, the tradition of respecting civilian rule and FOLLOWING CIVILIAN ORDERS… keeps us straight.

      Otherwise, it is our boot on your neck. Chile. Bolivia. Etc. Twice now the military has intervened in politics in The US in major ways: Dick Cheney and his attempt to gin up a fake war with a fake “Tonkin Gulf Incident” in the Straits of Hormus. The other time was during the budget impasse caused by Ted Cruz back in 2013. The 2007-8 intervention was to hamstring Cheney and get some revenge for the false blame that the Bush Admin laid at the feet of the military and CIA for 9/11. The 2013 talking to that certain Congress members received was far simpler: you pay the troops who you send to war or your life expectancy as a politician becomes very much shorter; resulting in a budget deal in less than 24 hours. The Marine Corp lost their top enlisted soldier after he mouthed off wrongly about troops not needing pay.

      Voters need to stop lying to themselves about their supposed anti-war stance as they cast ballots for pro-war, pro-intervention political candidates.

      Most voters don’t want to face that truth. They simply lie to themselves in order to justify their own vote so that their team wins because for them? Nothing else matters except that their team wins.

      The day American voters elect anti-war, anti-interventionist Congress Members and a President? Is the day Americans have done the right thing. That day is not coming anytime soon.

      Reply
      1. Cripes

        Fuller
        Oh really, then whose your favorite anti war candidate voters were too stupid to vote for?

        Bush ran on no nation building foreign adventures.
        Obama ran on “I would have voted against Iraq war resolution if I was in the Senate.” While McCain promised more war.

        They voted against war, they didn’t get it.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          When did Syria start?

          Obama.

          Obama tried to keep us in Iraq and failed. Ironically enough, because Bush and Cheney couldn’t negotiate a permanent SOFA. Though both wanted to keep American forces in Iraq indefinitely. Wait, US forces ARE STILL THERE.

          Who is President now? Not Obama. Occupying Syrian oil fields while he is at it. Trump even used bad OPCW propaganda to hit a Syrian airfield after Clinton was on TV saying that is what she would have done, hours before.

          The more things Change, the more they stay the same.

          Reply
      2. davidgmillsatty

        As if voters have the slightest input as to who the candidates will be. About the only candidate who has run as a peace candidate is Kucinich. And support for him was minimal.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Both you and “cripes” pretend that there isn’t an actual peace party: the Green Party. And odd as it seems, the Libertarians oppose foreign adventures, too.

          You, and most Americans, had choices.

          Reply
      3. Stephen Gardner

        Propanda works. Our press smears Tulsi Gabbard every time they talk about her. And she is painted as a traitor because she wants no part of regime change wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc.

        People are denied good antiwar candidates through propaganda and concerted efforts by well paid talking heads spewing lies about foreign leaders that don’t toe the line.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Propaganda works because people don’t want to know. Good news… more and more people woke up. Down side? Still not enough.

          Reply
        2. jrs

          That may be, she’d good on what she’s good on, although sometimes it’s minor battles, but has she said anything about Bolvia? Believe only Sanders has said anything. Don’t know if he’d always govern the best re latin America, but Tulsi isn’t putting her neck out there.

          Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Deval Patrick’s first win: Not getting booed at California’s Democratic convention”

    What are they talking about? This is considered a win? Marcie Frost could stand as a Presidential Candidate and she wouldn’t get booed at California’s Democratic convention.

    Reply
  3. cnchal

    > Amazon Says It Didn’t Get a $10 Billion Contract Because Trump Hates Bezos Vice

    “We’re surprised about this conclusion,” an AWS spokesperson said at the time. “AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly lead to a different conclusion.”

    There must not be greater soul destroying jawb than being an Amazon spokesperson, to constantly have to lie for your supper.

    Here is a good example of Amazon’s AWS crapping the bed.

    https://spun.io/2019/10/10/aws-elasticsearch-a-fundamentally-flawed-offering/

    As has happened before, Amazon took the open-source side of Elasticsearch, did a hard fork, and has been selling it as a hosted service, slowly implementing their own versions of features that have been available in one form or fashion in mainline Elasticsearch for years.

    Amazon’s implementation is missing a lot of things like RBAC and auditing, which is particularly problematic in our environment because we are ingesting log data from different teams and would prefer to be able to segment them from one another; currently, anyone with access to Elasticsearch has full privileges to everything and can accidentally delete other people’s data, change how it’s replicated across nodes, and cause data ingestion to stop completely by adding a bad index template.

    This is frustrating, but it’s not the big issue with their service. Shard rebalancing, a central concept to Elasticsearch working as well as it does, does not work on AWS’s implementation, and that negates basically everything good about Elasticsearch.

    n a normal scenario, as data is added to nodes, sometimes one can become more full than others. This is understandable because there are no guarantees that records ingested will be the same size, or that shard counts will always evenly divide out across all of the nodes in a cluster. It’s not a big deal though, because Elasticsearch can rebalance shards across the nodes, and if one node does happen to fill up, the other nodes will happily start taking in data in its place.

    This is not supported on Amazon. Some nodes can fill up (much) more quickly than others.

    And it gets worse. On Amazon, if a single node in your Elasticsearch cluster runs out of space, the entire cluster stops ingesting data, full stop. Amazon’s solution to this is to have users go through a nightmare process of periodically changing the shard counts in their index templates and then reindexing their existing data into new indices, deleting the previous indices, and then reindexing the data again to the previous index name if necessary. This should be wholly unnecessary, is computationally expensive, and requires that a raw copy of the ingested data be stored along with the parsed record because the raw copy will need to be parsed again to be reindexed. Of course, this also doubles the storage required for “normal” operation on AWS.

    Please read the article for further gruesome datails.

    Those power sucking data centers now get to suck even moar due to Amazon incompetence and malfeasance. Because they consume so much power, they get a massive discount for that power, in effect subsidized by you and me paying the retail price on our power bills.

    The article doesn’t mention the 30% return rate (30 phucking percent !!!) of the crapola bought from the warehouse and also fails to mention that scammers have overun the website and the crazily driven unmarked white delivery vans running over people and into other motorists, all the while shifting the responsibility for the mayhem to someone else.

    They have millions of products listed, mostly from China, on their platform. Which begs a few questions. How many “engineers” would it take to clean up the scams on Amazon and AWS? How many legitimate products would be left to sell were it cleaned up? Has platform automation gone too far?

    And for the cherry on top, central banks like the Swiss are shareholders in this garbage barge, propping up the stawk price so Bezos can enjoy his Star Dreck fantasies.

    I’m glad Bezos is going to waste a pile of money on lawyers, pleading for moar subsidies from the government.

    I think the government should run it’s own data centers and cut out these greedy middlemen. I bet there would be lots of techbros willing to work for the government in a descent working environment without the daily whippings.That is one way to keep the private sector honest, and have a good idea of what is legitimate and what is a scam in tech wasteland.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I have just read your comment with amazement and disgust. So tell me – Amazon has the contract for the CIA’s cloud I believe. Would what you wrote apply to their service then?

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        Yes, Amazon got a $600 million contract to hold the CIA’s zeros and ones in a box. Why not have the NSA do that? They have built a massive data center somewher in the desert, so they could host the zeros and ones themselves, and cut out the greedy middlemen.

        AWS is full of crap, just like the warehouses.

        Reply
            1. ambrit

              Well, you could call them “fulfillment centres” in the same sense as the massage parlours that offer their ‘customers’ a “Happy Ending.” Both are jerking you off. (For some Freudian definition of “rabbit hole.” See: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter 1.)

              Reply
          1. cnchal

            Nothing is moar full of crap than an Amazon warehouse other that another Amazon warehouse, or Amazon spokesperson, so your insult is a non sequitur.

            Proper insult use – “you are allmost as full of crap as an Amazon warehouse or spokesperson”

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Uh. I rush in here, while angels fear to tread these paths. I am an ex-Plumber and have a long and extensive experience of s–t. I have also seen City Hall from an observer’s vantage point. Both mentioned venues would give Amazon a run for it’s money. (The phrase, “filthy lucre” jumps onto one’s mind.)
              There! We are already trending towards fundamentals.

              Reply
    2. Mike

      “Those power sucking data centers now get to suck even moar due to Amazon incompetence and malfeasance.”

      Cannot agree- malfeasance is certainly true, but incompetence cannot be true- purposeful crap-making and constant cheapening are the way of giant business today. Amazon knows what they are doing, and their methods regarding federal contracts is no different than GE, Raytheon, Boeing, et al. This knowledge of how to short costs and gain profit has been Ok’d by government regulators (i.e., corporate plants) and is the rule, not the exception. Defense and security be damned – we have money to make, guaranteed by USA, USA.

      I’m now taking my F-35 and getting lunch in Phoenix.

      Reply
    3. ChrisPacific

      Yes, I’d heard a lot about the issues with Amazon’s version of ElasticSearch (Elastic even offers a helpful comparison matrix that lists many of the deficiencies of the AWS version). Using it for petabyte scale work sounds like a failure of due diligence to me – I expect it was a decision imposed on the author from on high. Even if you’re committed to AWS, you can run the stack yourself on EC2 if you like and avoid most of the issues.

      This does not mean that every other part of AWS is similarly bad – much of it is very good. It does illustrate a couple of cross-cutting issues with Amazon, namely its problematic relationship with open source and its aversion to multi-vendor or multi-cloud implementations. In the end you need to do your homework and figure out which scenario applies in your particular situation.

      I agree the ecommerce side is not what it used to be. I used to be a regular customer but now I avoid it unless I have no alternative (this has become easier to do as the progressive deterioration of the service has made it clear that they aren’t to be trusted).

      All of that aside, Amazon may very well have a case if Trump has been interfering with the procurement process. These tend to be heavily regulated with the aim of removing opportunities for corruption and political influence (I imagine the US is no different in this regard) and the opportunities for missteps are many and varied. “A detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly lead to a different conclusion” is pretty much a straight-up allegation that procurement rules were violated. To defend it, the Pentagon will need to show that they followed the process correctly and the decision was based on an objective assessment of merits against the agreed criteria (see my comment about doing your homework). This will be doubly important if Trump has been railing against Amazon in the context of this contract, which will likely have created significant pressure for the parties concerned to deliver the ‘right’ result even if he never said so explicitly.

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Was looking for an 8tb drive the other day and spent about 45 minutes on Amazon just sifting through the sponsored listings and various other things that were definitely not 8tb drives and gave up. Went to a local French e-commerce site and paid the premium for being able to find what I needed.

        For me, Amazon shopping is cooked. Stick a fork in it.

        Reply
      2. D. Fuller

        These tend to be heavily regulated with the aim of removing opportunities for corruption and political influence (I imagine the US is no different in this regard) and the opportunities for missteps are many and varied.

        Ah, no.

        Government procurement is anything but that. We had a vendor – Vendor A – for screws and fasteners no less send in a sealed bid. Another vendor – Vendor B – won the contract. At a higher price. Same screws and fasteners.

        The sealed bid by Vendor A was returned unopened. Vendor A called the contracting agency and was told by the contracting agency: You don’t have the right last name (meaning, not a political contributor to the right politicians).

        I advised Vendor A to start maxing out his political contributions to whichever party held the majority in Congress. Turns out, it helped the next time.

        The next cash cow? Hypersonic weapons. Except that we built them in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Sprint and Safeguard ballistic missile defense. Now, companies clamouring that billions (upon billions) of dollars will be needed to catch up.

        And lifting body missiles first proposed in the 1950’s.

        The Russians and Chinese simply copied old 1970’s US technology and modified them for use from air platforms and the like.

        Dr. Strangelove would say: We have a hypseronic missile gap, Mein Fuerher!

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          You didn’t say whether that response from the contracting agency was legal or not. I’m quite willing to believe that there are occasional or even widespread violations of procurement laws that are not policed or enforced, but I’d bet that those mostly go in favor of large businesses rather than against them.

          On further reading, it seems like legal action over procurement decisions is a pretty common occurrence (Oracle has one active right now over the same system, for example, alleging that Amazon exercised undue influence over the terms of reference) the DoD is well-prepared for handling them, and they rarely succeed.

          Reply
          1. D. Fuller

            Lowest bidder wins according to the rules. Vendor A had delivered on prior contracts so performance was not an issue.

            Political donations = better chance of receiving contracts. Cronyism. With Citizens United redefining the Federal definition of “public corruption” into “showing gratitude”… It’s a toss-up as to the actions of the procurement agency was legal or not… but probably not.

            Reply
        2. rowlf

          The Sprint missile program was a good example of what the US could do when it wanted to do something. Too bad those days are past and the financial and political people are selling all of the family silverware instead or living on the carcasses of past programs. The US used to build things, even if they were not exactly examples of right thought, action, livelihood, effort or mindfulness.

          Sprint accelerated at 100 g, reaching a speed of Mach 10 in 5 seconds.
          The warhead was intended to destroy the incoming reentry vehicle primarily by neutron flux.

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprint_(missile)

          Reply
          1. D. Fuller

            Russians and Chinese copied the technology as best they could, adapted it for multiple platforms, and at a cheap price.

            As to the reliability of those foreign systems… don’t bet on it. Expect a failure rate as high as 6 in 10. Though, 4 are still more than enough to get the job done.

            America’s reliability for successful launch of ICBM’s is about 7 in 10 warheads landed on target. Though, there have been improvements.

            Reply
    4. Olivier

      No great fan of Amazon here but the constant Amazon-bashing gets a bit tiresome.

      Yes, Amazon has been overrun by scammers and two-bit operations: it’s just another eBay now. But as to the 30% return rate you have to take into account the existence of millions of customers of the sort that orders twelve pairs of shoes (or whatever) and returns eleven of them or maybe even all twelve. Because visiting a shoe store is too much trouble. Amazon’s no-question-asked, full-refund return policies, which were key to its success, incentivize this behaviour, so that high return rates should not necessarily be taken as indicative of poor product quality.

      And as for AWS being a “garbage barge”, I’ll cut them some slack because scale matters and nobody operates at the scale of AWS, so it’s understandable that features are rolled out progressively. And what is it with the “hard forks”: why do you think it’s open-source? This kind of double talk is quite common in the open-source world, I have observed. They effuse that you are perfectly to do whatever you want with it (really whatever, man), including forking it, but if you do then watch out because sometimes the knives come out…

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        Hello. Read this part.

        . . . Which begs a few questions. How many “engineers” would it take to clean up the scams on Amazon and AWS? How many legitimate products would be left to sell were it cleaned up? Has platform automation gone too far?

        Amazon has hundreds of thousands of employees. What you don’t get is that Amazon has no incentive to get rid of the scammers, the two bit operations and the fake and copywritten products, so those were rhetorical questions.

        They profit from looking the other way while claiming they are too stupid to fix the platform while simultaneosly claiming to be the best at cloud computing, and here is evidence they are not.

        It’s like a mechanic claiming to be the best, yet his own car breaks down constantly because it’s never fixed right.

        As for the 30% return rate, shoes, really? Not from what I see at the post office.

        Reply
  4. Donald

    The OPCW story is the story of the decade if it is true. It would show the mainstream press is completely untrustworthy. Their credibility would be down the toilet.

    The far left hasn’t been too great on Syria either, because so many people ( to some extent on both sides) want to turn it into a referendum on whether Assad is good or evil. For Americans the point should be that we were arming groups that often fought side by side with Al Nusra aka Al Qaeda.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Not really that surprising this story. It seems to be standard procedure to infiltrate major organizations and subvert them to give a political message that suits western interests. OK, we know know that the OPCW is compromised. So is the Human Rights Watch, so is the Olympic Committee. The list goes on. Just Standard Operational Procedure.
      Having said this, I still believe that the OPCW should hand back their 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace but that is just me saying this.

      Reply
        1. Ignim Brites

          Isn’t the complimentary charge that the chemical weapons attack was actually a false flag op carried out by the anti Assad forces, namely al-Queda or its allies.

          Reply
          1. D. Fuller

            Look up the Turkish MP’s (Members of Parliament) who stood up and accused Turkey’s intelligence services of helping provide some of the precursor chemicals to to anti-Assad forces.

            Also realize that anti-Assad forces had overrun a Syrian chemical weapons depot in 2011 (IIRC). That anti-Assad forces had also seized the Syrian facility that had been used by the Syrian government to develop chemical weapons – though the equipment there would have been damaged or in a state of disrepair from the fighting.

            Throw in some Saudi money and chemical engineering expertise (petroleum and distillates have interesting applications in other areas).

            And you have the Aum Shinrikyo of Syria. If you don’t know who Aum Shinrikyo is? They are the Japanese terrorists who carried out a successful sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

            To carry out a false-flag CW attack requires much less than it did decades ago when State actors and their facilities monopolized chemical weapons.

            Reply
        2. Procopius

          At the time it was asserted that they were prisoners whom Da’esh had kidnapped. The White Helmets are a public relations firm funded by MI6. They have plenty of expertise to mock up scenes that look convincing to people who are not paying close attention and already believe the story being supported.

          Reply
      1. John A

        Rev Kev,
        There is no mechanism for withdrawing/handing back a Nobel Peace Prize. This question was raised after Obama’s inglorious award. The recipient can refuse to accept, Sartre springs to mind with the Nobel Literature Prize.

        Reply
      2. samhill

        Having said this, I still believe that the OPCW should hand back their 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace but that is just me saying this

        I’m picturing Henry Kissinger, Barak Obama, and the OPCW stumbling over each other in their rush to turn in their Nobel Peace Prizes.

        Reply
    2. Farragut

      Re: “story of the decade”, is there *any* institution we can trust these days?
      To wit: OPCW, UN, Wall St, Fed Govt, MSM, the Catholic church, Federal Reserve, Intelligence agencies, universities, etc.
      At dinner last night, my wife & I were discussing recent events in the news with our two sons (ages 14 & 16). There wasn’t a single institution we could think of that hasn’t sh!t the bed in recent years (or has been revealed to have engaged in questionable / unethical / illegal behavior through leaks).
      It was a sobering & depressing discussion.

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        I can think of one organization, but it’s local and small enough that everyone is only two degrees separated.

        Two that once were, Nature Conservancy and the NRDC , got crapified. I looked at Wiki’s list of Institutions (which can include organizations), and can only conclude that trust is not a necessary function of institutions. Iron Law has better explanatory value.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        {slips on Reynolds Wrap headgear, with ‘Dow 30K’ inscribed in sharpie, looks in the mirror & wonders what does K0ewoD mean?}

        Foiled again in my ability to ascertain certain doom, being a blognosticator involves heavy seer pressure, but here goes anyway.

        Aside from a little superintendent hanky panky, leading to the expulsion of said offenders, the National Park Service is fairly trustworthy as institutions go, largely because most of what they do doesn’t involve making money, in a ‘were here-were austere, get used to it’ manner.

        Reply
      3. Amfortas the hippie

        “…is there *any* institution we can trust these days?…”

        i can’t think of one.
        Naked Capitalism, perhaps.

        which might lead some to contemplate if we’re ready for this: https://web.archive.org/web/20180913110400/http://left-liberty.net/?p=265
        only even half-hearted attempts at that that i can think of are Occupy and some of the local DSA people(taillights) that Lambert has mentioned.
        altho, Burning Man has a pretty good template of that(even given what it’s become)….. as do the Rainbow Family gatherings , where the former obtained it’s template.

        Reply
    3. JohnnyGL

      “The far left hasn’t been too great on Syria either, because so many people ( to some extent on both sides) want to turn it into a referendum on whether Assad is good or evil. For Americans the point should be that we were arming groups that often fought side by side with Al Nusra aka Al Qaeda.”

      There’s a segment of leftie commentators/pundits that seems weirdly blind to the idea that NGOs are compromised political actors subject to political pressures. They want to believe our institutions have integrity…media, universities, NGOs, various state agencies, etc.

      There’s another group of us that look at a whole catalogue of stories….iraqi WMDs, 2016 primaries, russiagate, epstein, weinstein, and the syrian war and realize that when you paint a picture….there’s absolute rottenness infested throughout all the institutions of american society.

      It’s an ugly picture, but it’s not inconsistent with what you find when you look at american history with a more critical lens. When i looked at vietnam era events again, i can’t help but think the so-called ‘ken burns’ narrative lens of ‘we meant well, but we made terrible mistakes’ is absurdly naive and you can make the case with the very material burns himself has uncovered.

      I guess the question is why does so much of librul america maintain the ken burns point of view???

      Reply
      1. Donald

        That used to be me— I used to have a touching faith in HRW, for instance, as sincere people who told the truth about human rights no matter what the ideology of the perpetrator. It might still be true of some, but I lost that faith over the past decade or so.

        They really were good, or their predecessor America’s Watch was good way back in the Reagan era where they would flatly contradict the Administration on what was going on in Central America. But now I think they are too close to the mainstream liberal foreign policy blob. Not completely worthless, but not completely trustworthy.

        Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Burns diligently exposes all the info you need (about Vietnam for example) but then draws the benign conclusion “good people with good motives we’re trying their best in a bad situation”.

        The next jump is harder for “Murkans (or any others) to make: bad people hijack the gullibility of good people to pursue their bad goals, viz Wall St, CIA, State Dept., MIC, Pharma ad infinitum.

        The wailing and hand-wringing in the kangaroo court impeachment hearings about so many very good people at State doing oh such a great job who got triggered by a president having the audacity to pursue his own foreign policy is one example. How dare he upend a policy in place for 75 years, even if the very premise for that policy (the expansionist Soviet menace) no longer even exists.

        Definitive and excellent summary here (Rising/The Hill): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEKwfF4dEsg

        Reply
      3. D. Fuller

        There’s a segment of leftie commentators/pundits that seems weirdly blind to the idea that NGOs are compromised political actors

        Kind of odd to say because the “Leftie commentors/pundits” are usually the ones who are remarking first upon such issues as “al-Nusra is really al-Qeda”. I find that RW websites are up to a decade behind in remarking upon such – they usually get their information from Left “alternative” websites and then twist them to attack so-called “Left” politicians ex. Obama (who is anything BUT Left).

        Syria is nothing more than the CIA playbook from Afghanistan. The Mujaheddin are nothing more than Al-Nusra/Qeda and Assad was targeted instead of The Soviet Army.

        It’s that simple. A no-brainer that has been remarked upon in certain obscure circles since the entire Syrian war started. Some Left outfit has been tracking US weapons via the use of serial numbers to A-N/Q and ISIS. For years now.

        The Right tends to pick up stories from the Left – and not those fake Centrists like Pelosi, Tanden, CNN, MSNBC – and run with those stories into some conspiracy theory (cry “Wolf!” too much) instead of sticking to conspiracy fact (prosecutable offenses). The RW conspiracy machine actually helps conceal conspiracy fact – useful fools. I considered Alex Jones at his heyday to be one of the most unknowing government agents in modern history when it came to helping special interests conceal their actions.

        Using someone to cry “Wolf!” to much – desensitization. People stop listening so that when a conspiracy fact does come along, trumpeted by useful fools like Alex Jones… no one believes them.

        John Solomon – more of a mercenary than anything – seems to be the latest go-to useful fool, this time for the faction that backs Trump, in DC. Seems to be. Solomon actually knows what he is doing. The Clinton Cash book that spawned the “Hillary sold uranium to Russia” mixed fact with fantasy and omission to paint a quite clever story.

        The flaws, among too many, big enough to drive every US aircraft carrier through side-by-side is that:

        To bribe Clinton to approve the deal would also requiring bribing EU and Canadian officials, among many others.

        I invite you and John Solomon to present that proof that Russia did so – bribed EU and Canadian officials to approve the deal.

        Bill Clinton? Trump is no stranger to Russian money and neither are Republicans. Trump did business in Russia. Russian oligarchs with US subsidiaries and/or US Citizenship now regularly contribute foreign money to Republicans and RW Super-PACs. Don’t worry, Democrats receive donations like that also… but at a far less rate then Republicans.

        It’s a bipartisan issue that was made worse by Citizens United, ruled on by Scalia(R), Alito(R), Kennedy(R), Thomas(R), and Roberts(R). A ruling that gutted Federal corruption laws by redefining political bribery and corruption as “showing gratitude”.

        That’s a lot of (R)’s after those names.

        Citizens United actually protects The Clintons when it came to influence peddling and the like. You can thank Conservatives on The Supreme Court for protecting the Clintons.

        That is why Jeff Sessions and Barr won’t go after The Clintons. They both know that The Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of such acts. As a matter of fact, an ex-governor of Virginia was caught in an obvious bribery scheme, being convicted. The ex-gov appealed to The Supreme Court resulting in his conviction being over-turned thanks to the application of Citizens United.

        No. Russia did not swing the 2016 election for Trump. Voter suppression did that for Trump.

        Reply
  5. dearieme

    About the non-gas non-attack by non-Assad in Syria: hasn’t it been obvious all along that it was fake? By which I mean that I didn’t believe a word of it, being old enough to have heard W’s and Toni’s evidence for invading Iraq. Or, come to that, to have heard the defence of Slick Willie’s effect on Iraqi children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM0uvgHKZe8 What heartless bustards these people are.

    Stents: their limited utility has been known for some time, hasn’t it? Additionally Studies Find No Benefits of Statin Use for Millions Without Heart Disease has also been known for quite some time. Consider too a comment from a friend of mine, a retired epidemiologist: “More of my friends report unpleasant side effects of statins than the literature would have led me to believe likely”.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Yes, I’m aware that this ain’t exactly news, and perhaps should have included some such disclaimer. Usually, I comment minimally on the Links I post, and leave it up to readers to chime in. Thanks for highlighting the point.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        Please don’t take it as a complaint aimed at you; rather, it was aimed at the surgeons and physicians who do so well from boasting about their success against heart attacks. It seems possible that the surge in heart attacks from the 1920s to the 1960s was caused by an unidentified micro-organism i.e. what happened was an infectious epidemic. The rates have now declined substantially – heart attacks are now just another one of those illnesses that cull the old rather than cutting a swathe through middle-aged men. (See poor old Bernie, for instance.)

        The decline started far too early to be explained by statins, the decline in smoking, or any changes in diet. It clearly had nothing to do with the medical trades. (Unless, a personal notion of mine, the rate retreated in the face of the widespread prescription of antibiotics for all manner of other conditions.)

        Reply
        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          No worries. I didn’t read your comment that way at all – and was glad you raised the point, as I’d thought about mentioning it, but didn’t, so I’m glad someone did.

          Reply
        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          Another factor in the decline of heart disease beginning in the decades following World War II was the emerging awareness of the correlation between cholesterol levels and the disease. IIRC the medical folks’ first clue of the connection was when Norwegian epidemiologists scratched their heads over the fact that heart attacks in-country dropped dramatically during the war and began rising again soon after. What was different was that from 1940 to 1945 the Germans expropriated almost all of Norway’s dairy products. Post-war studies confirmed the connection and cardiologists have been cholesterol nazis ever since.

          Reply
          1. dearieme

            Another factor in the decline of heart disease beginning in the decades following World War II was the emerging awareness of the correlation between cholesterol levels and the disease.

            No. If that knowledge were to effect heart attack rates it could only be through medication or change in diet. Neither happened early enough to explain the decline from the late 60s onwards.

            (Which suggests that the cholesterol theory is bogus.)

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Inflammation. Apparently your body sends cholesterol to the affected spot as a part of natural defense and repair. They autopsied heart attack victims and found lots of cholesterol; ergo cholesterol must be the culprit. Cue the industry to make billions on statins.

              Reply
              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                Me being an extremely stupid idiot by not adapting my lifelong circuit training to suit my age was how I ended up getting a stent. I had no idea what a stent was or what was going on, but I would have said yes to just about anything if the masked ones had bothered to ask.

                6 years later after no statins & no problems besides paranoia every time I get bad heartburn & If it happens again I hope it is quick like in the movies, as the experience for the first attack was a pure nightmare.

                I did read a little while back that stents are incredibly expensive in the US.

                Reply
          2. D. Fuller

            The French consume far more fatty foods than Americans.

            And yet, have less of health problems associated with a fatty, high cholesterol diet.

            The American food pyramid? Is based on crapified science. Nakedcapitalism.com has hosted articles to that effect in the past

            Here is something interesting: a study in Sweden showed correlation between early death and food abundance, particularly sugars.

            Also? Restricted diets force the body to economize. The generation that experienced the Great Depression are noted for their longevity. Whether or not this is true is subject to debate.

            In addition? Chemicals in our food and an environment polluted. One entire Maine town had their livelihood (lobster and crabbing) destroyed by one DuPont factory (long closed now). Costing that town far more than they ever gained by hosting a DuPont chemical factory producing non-stick coating for pots and pans.

            The US uses over 100,000 chemicals that simply do not disappear once you dispose of them. Chemicals that mix in the environment and in our bodies. Using a chlorinated solution to clean? Anyone’s child can absorb residue from that solution from the floor and other surfaces.

            Is chlorine really that good for a child’s health?

            100,000 chemicals produce a lot of combinations that are probably very unhealthy for humans. Mixing in the environment.

            Let’s not mention the estimated 40 million tons of lead from unleaded gasoline that line the soil of America’s streets and highways, back yards (urban gardening anyone?), etc.

            The FDA does not test for those combinations.

            Reply
            1. Steve H.

              > Restricted diets force the body to economize.

              Calorie restriction with autophagy being suppressed did not extend lifetime in mice.

              > 40 million tons of lead from unleaded gasoline that line the soil of America’s streets and highways, back yards (urban gardening anyone?), etc.

              We laid down a truckload of aglime before starting the hugelkultur. Helps with acid soil, but also swamps any lingering lead with calcium.

              Reply
              1. D. Fuller

                Anorexia is not the way to go. Just kidding.

                Senescent cells are also interesting.

                And the lead is still there, migrating through the soil as chemicals are want to do. Chemicals don’t stay put as a rule, when it comes to man-made chemicals.

                Reply
        3. Oregoncharles

          Yes, the correlation with the rise of antibiotics is evidence for your idea that it was infectious, evidently something subtle, as ulcers turned out to be.

          Wonder if heart attacks will come back now the Age of Antibiotics is ending?

          And incidentally: the amount of medical information available on this “finance” site is gratifying.

          Reply
    2. Steve H.

      A quarter of Americans over 40 are on statins. They’re like the perfect neoliberal medicine, cure the nominal issue while creating multiple alternative revenue sources.

      Reply
      1. drexciya

        That’s really sick, especially given the long-term issues with these so called medicines. My mother had a, so called, close to the guideline cholesterol value, and she actively said; I’m not going to take statins. The nasty thing is, that the guidelines have been revised to already subscribe statins for ever lower and lower cholesterol values. Just changing her diet made a difference, by the way.

        Reply
      2. dearieme

        Unless you already suffer from CVD they don’t improve your lifespan. You may, however, enjoy all their side effects.

        Reply
      3. Bugs Bunny

        Statins-in France I know no one who takes them. Absolutely no one. And my social group is definitely 40 and above.

        Reply
        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          As far as I can remember I was told that they really don’t have much effect to your overall cholesterol balance, so I decided to adjust my diet & lifestyle instead. One of the side effects that I read about was related to eyes, which in my line of work & the likely fact that I won’t be able to retire, are very important to me.

          Reply
  6. jsn

    “How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry”

    Trump’s shadow foreign policy.

    Who makes US foreign policy?

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      The Praetorian Guard are getting more brazen about their dislike for the Emperor.

      I’m no fan, did not vote for and will not be voting for Trump, but still prefer that we eject him in November via a Sanders groundswell than the unelected permanent state consolidating its veto power on the presidency while the citizens do nothing.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        You are aware that the Presidential contest is structured (EC) in such a way that, theoretically, the winner only needs 25% of all votes cast?

        That is why only 77,000 votes in three states gave Le Orange his victory. It is also why you probably won’t need to stay up all night to discover who the victor will be. If Trump loses in Florida in 2020 the gig is up!

        Reply
      2. Late Introvert

        Yes, remove him with an election. Been repeating that from the early days of TDS and Russia Russia Russia!

        And given what they are doing to him, fear very much what they will do to a Sanders Administration.

        Reply
    2. D. Fuller

      Who makes US foreign policy?

      The President. And Congress when Congress pass laws that dictate US foreign policy. That The President can fall afoul of when The President fails to uphold his Constitutional duty in enforcing laws passed by Congress and signed by a US President.

      Normally, when Congress passes a law such as providing aid to a country, there are clauses in the law that allow for The President to suspend aid. The President, in that case, can not simply make up some lame excuse to suspend aid. Instead, The President must make his case LAWFULLY – in accordance with the law – as to why he suspended or failed to deliver aid mandated by US LAW.

      Otherwise, The President is in violation of his Oath of Office and US LAW.

      The Senate also ratifies treaties – The President merely negotiates; though Presidents have simply taken to calling treaties, “agreements” in order to avoid oversight of US foreign policy by The Senate. Treaties which The President must uphold – at least in appearances given the state of US politics.

      Who makes US foreign policy?

      A simplified question. The President advocates and makes decisions regarding foreign policy, negotiates treaties, and acts in the absence of said treaties and US LAW governing foreign relations; all in accordance with US LAW. Failure to do so results in issues and even removal from office via impeachment.

      The President has no absolute power though they act like it i.e. Unitary Executive Theory (Kingly Power).

      Reply
      1. Oji

        Thank you.

        I tried making a closely-related point yesterday and several posters jumped on me as if I had said something factually incorrect.

        Reply
  7. a different chris

    The Musk story is generally “just the facts” OK but a few things stood out:

    Almost as soon as the Tesla CEO announced his intention to build a “Gigafactory” in Europe, German state governments began courting Musk like a horde of real estate agents eying a very solvent potential customer.

    No. Real Estate Agents do not actually pay for the house and services. They make money off the deal, a concept that seems completely lost to our political class.

    There’s another one about VW “quality’ that will come as a surprise to most of us VW owners – it has sure gotten better but so has everybody else. If you pushed back on it, what you would actually get from the Germans is that “when something is fixed in Germany, it stays fixed”.

    Well great, I’m not gonna argue whether German mechanics are better than your average Meinke dude. But up to the past decade or so, you bought a Toyota and it didn’t matter the quality of the local mechanics because you didn’t need one except for brakes and oil changes.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Thank you Chris

      My wife has had a succession of German Cars, and I made many trips at 6:30 AM to get then fixed. I got to know the service people by name.

      I fixed the problem, by telling my wife she had to rise early and take her car to the dealers.

      Now we have Toyota cars.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        That’s what the reliability tables say: buy Japanese or Korean. The era when German cars were better built is long past. I do wonder what will happen to the German economy when the penny eventually drops.

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          HYUNDAI

          – here’s why you not drive an import – from the lips of a service advisor.

          Warning, the latest two liter turbos are grenades. May as well include KIA too.

          So what if they replace the blown grenade with a new grenade. The automatic transmissions are garbage as a bonus.

          As for German cars, BMW in particular, the last great ones were the E39 and E46.

          Reply
      2. carl

        It’s recommended to lease German cars, not buy them. And remember, if something goes wrong, it’s the fault of the user, not the car.

        Reply
  8. Jesper

    About: Study Finds Limited Benefits of Stent Use for Millions With Heart Disease
    The story indicates (to me) a classic modern solution: The winner takes it all.

    When I read the story I get the impression that:
    -in some situations then surgery is the best option
    -in some situations then medicines is the best option
    -in some situations then lifestyle change is the best option
    And if that is the case then (for me) the next step would be to seek information to be used to find out how to decide which of the above (or combination thereof) treatment is best for the patient at hand.

    However, the narrative appears to be about finding one solution to be used for all – the winner takes all. And if so then it seems that people in the medical profession are willing to sacrifice the lives of others to get to continue to treat people in their own preferred way…..

    The human organism is very complex, I am surprised how supposedly intelligent people in medicine can with certainty decide that by looking at one indicator is enough to diagnose the underlying illness and by knowing the illness also knowing the treatment. I know that people in medicine can be very arrogant (the story of Paolo Macchiarini comes to mind) but I still get surprised by the extent of their arrogance.

    I recently had reason to read up on TSH-results and the diagnostic value of TSH-results. A complex problem/illness to be diagnosed by one simple test. The test is simple, however, it does not detect all who suffer from hypothyroidism and it also gives false positives. A test that gives false positives and also false negatives would to me indicate a test of very little value but it is currently the gold standard for testing/diagnosing hypothyroidism. By the looks of it (my opinion) then the situation is what it is due to there being lots of money and prestige in the medical industry.

    Money and prestige things attracts sociopaths. Sociopaths will act as sociopaths for as long as they can get away with it. I don’t think prestige can be removed from medicine, I do believe money in medicine can be reduced – change IP laws, limit private health-insurance and have a good coverage for all etc. Possibly that can make it less attractive for sociopaths to go into a field where they can do a lot of damage.

    Reply
    1. RubyDog

      Jesper, you said “A test that gives false positives and also false negatives would to me indicate a test of very little value”. This is a common misunderstanding of the meaning of those terms and the role of statistics in medicine. There is no test that exists that does not give both false positive and negative results. That’s just the nature of the beast. Good doctors are certainly aware of the limitations of diagnostic testing, and the need to interpret any given result in light of the overall clinical situation of a particular patient. A test result is simply one piece of data among many that need to be taken into account to help guide decision making, and each individual patient is a complex animal, as you say. If you are interested in learning more about the statistical aspect, this Wikipedia article is a pretty good, readable summary of the topic – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitivity_and_specificity.

      Bias enters the picture in my opinion not due to any nefariousness or obtuseness of doctors, but to the perverse incentives of the fee for service medical system in the US, where procedures are reimbursed at a much higher rate than cognitive medicine. Listening to patients, making recommendations, writing prescriptions when needed is valued (in monetary terms) at a much lower rate than surgical procedures. That’s one big reason there is a shortage of primary care physicians relative to specialists here.
      Overtreatment and unnecessary procedures are a big problem in the US system, and have been for a long time.

      Reply
      1. Jesper

        Yes you are right. The problem might be that doctors are given guidelines from which they cannot deviate without risking losing their license. I understand and agree with the existence of guidelines but the danger is the formulaic following of guidelines without considering the possibility that the test might be incorrect. Good doctors might be aware of the limitations of the diagnostic test but if given the choice between risking their license (their livelihood) or playing it safe and following the guidelines then I understand why they might follow the guidelines exactly without deviation.

        The guidelines are often reliant on tests and as you say the tests are not 100% reliable and therefore treatment can be and are given when it shouldn’t and withheld when it should be given.

        Statistics is complicated, I doubt if many doctors know much more than how to use statistical software and a couple of buzzwords to impress people who don’t know anything about statistics.

        A company who gets to be the provider of the treatment as specified by medical guidelines is guaranteed to get a lot of business.

        I agree, most doctors are trying to do the best for their patients, the IP laws, private hospitals and the private insurance companies creates bias which is then forced upon the doctors.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I’ve had a lot of doctors as a result of moving to Oz and then losing my old GP (who stopped practicing medicine to join a biotech). I don’t agree at all because I’ve had just about no doctors pay attention to the guidelines.

          My former GP was a cardiologist at Mount Sinai and even back then he wasn’t hot on cholesterol as a risk indicator. Later GPs and endocrinologists I saw were of a similar view, that triglyceride and homocysteine were much better risk indicators.

          Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Prince Andrew: I didn’t have sex with teenager, I was home after Pizza Express in Woking”

    He has no idea that he has made it far worse for himself, does he. Saying that it was a Pizza Express that he was at all those years ago? Is that a joke reference to the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria in Washington DC that was supposed to have an online pedophile ring running out of it? I can’t remember what I ate last week. He can remember that Pizzeria years ago but he cannot remember the occasion that that actual foto was taken of him hugging that young girl?
    He should have asked his mate Bill what to say. He would have said to wag his finger and say “I did not have sexual relations with this woman”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlwEMRQKTtU) and people would have believed him. He has a very convenient memory if you ask me. You know what the problem with Andrew is? He forgot a basic rule of life-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y3FzVQi-R8

    Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        aristocracy is inherently offensive. his behavior is no surprise. i’m surprised when a rich person ISN’T a predatory sociopath.

        Reply
    1. dearieme

      Is he implying that he knows where he was because he had his police guard check the records?

      Then show the records.

      I suppose it may be possible that he wouldn’t bother with a guard for a quick trip to the pizza place. But would he have wanted a guard for his daughter?

      Reply
  10. Ignacio

    RE:New satellite measurements show how polluted Los Angeles’ air really is Phys.org

    1) Why focus on LA when in the middle of the article it is stated that contamination levels are worse in NY and Chicago?
    2) If the conclusion of the article is “that people can choose where they live based on other criteria than the quality of the air they breathe”, why writting it on the first place?

    Reply
  11. Wukchumni

    New satellite measurements show how polluted Los Angeles’ air really is Phys.org
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In our May to November dalliance without a drop, the air quality has really gone bad, we were most recently in L.A. and the skies were beige with a lack of longer distance clarity, that reminded me of any old day in the late 60’s or early 70’s.

    When attempting to make good our escape from the City of Angles, cars kept on getting into wrecks gumming up the works in particular on the 5 freeway going north, so we went scenic on Little Tujunga Canyon Road, and we’d only gone about 5 miles into the twisty adventure that eventually gets you back to the freeway around Magic Mountain, when my wife says “this would be a good place to dump a body’ as it had that kind of feel.

    C’est L.A. via

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Yes, the air was murky for the past several days up until yesterday. Onshore winds, inversion layer, plus vehicle pollution. 3.99 million people and rapidly rising, plus there’s this:

      “It’s California’s dirty little emissions secret.

      As Gov. Jerry Brown and the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach promise an emissions-free future, some diesel fumes aren’t going anywhere.

      That’s because, unlike your car, there’s no routine emissions-testing program for big rigs in California.

      And a provision in Senate Bill 1 – the $52 billion road-fixing law Brown signed amid much ballyhoo in the spring – exempts most diesel trucks from emissions-reduction requirements for many years ahead.”

      https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/24/why-californias-most-polluting-vehicles-arent-required-to-get-smog-checks-9/

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        To have watched real estate occupy every possible space of L.A. for over 40 years was something else. An all conquering army that even made use of former landfills for white picket fenced communities instead.

        Some of the apartments lurching near the 5 freeway seem maybe 100 feet from traffic. That ain’t me babe.

        Reply
        1. Danny

          100 Feet? How about directly above the soundwall barrier?

          I want the penthouse atop the Puente Hills Landfill–unlimited free methane for stove and heater for life.

          Reply
  12. John Beech

    l’affaire Jeffrey Epstein

    Prince Andrew: I didn’t have sex with teenager, I was at home after pizza party

    Did Epstein commit suicide – or – was he killed? I believe he was killed.

    With respect to Ms. Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre) and events when she was 17 and on a private island. Are you kidding me? Does anybody seriously believe there’s a force on earth that will stop a 17-y/o from having sex short of locking them up – and maybe not even then? I mean, put aside the question of where were the parents when a 17 year old girl is flying to the Caribbean on a private jet, but the guy’s a prince; does anybody actually believe she wasn’t thrilled to be there? Just look at the photo of them together . . . of course they had sex!

    Tell me she’s 12 and my opinion changes, but at 17, and no offense to those feigning outraged, but I don’t buy it. I don’t believe anybody forced anything, neither do I believe that young woman didn’t knew exactly what she was getting into. My point being; this young woman crying foul about it now strikes me as disingenuous.

    Regardless, the age of consent is 16 in most of the USA (and England). Some nations in the Caribbean use 16 as well but in some nations in Latin America it’s <14 years old – and – within ten nations of South America it 'is' 14 years old!

    This recognizes some are ready before others and a) there's precious little we can do about it, and b) as the old joke goes, a stiff prick has no conscience. With more pressing things to fret about, this doesn't even make the top 10 list. Next?

    Reply
      1. nycTerrierist

        +1

        Not to burst JB’s fantasy, but as a former 17-year-old girl, I can assure you a middle-aged creep
        like the Prince, however royal, would be a very hard sell, dare one say, quite a disgusting prospect.

        Those poor girls were simply used by their ‘betters’

        Reply
        1. kiwi

          As the same, a former 17 year old girl, we should face facts about teenage sexuality, promiscuity, and general stupidity of us humans.

          I shudder to think of the times I could have gotten into trouble, and I was not even one of the sexually aggressive young women that existed at the time.

          I was in junior high (couldn’t have been older than 14) when a girl walked up in front of class, grabbed the (hottie) teacher’s face, and kissed him full on. She, and any number of other girls, would have been happy to bed this guy. I’ve been thoroughly disgusted throughout my life to see how women throw themselves at men. And now you have a public figure, a prince no less, who could have been considered attractive by any gold digger or climber.

          It is just as easy to believe that this young lady was willing as it is to believe that she was exploited, depending on what happened.

          Reply
            1. kiwi

              It’s more pathetic that you can’t face facts.

              Women are not pure as the driven snow and are every bit as amoral as men.

              Think Ghislaine Maxwell.

              Reply
              1. Fíréan

                Why doesn’t anyone ask Maxwell , she was there in the (unedited) photo too ?

                And what’s wrong with posing this question ?

                Reply
                1. Heraclitus

                  I have always thought that photo looked like a fake. His left arm, wrapped around her as it is, is too long, and is at the wrong angle. That was my first impression of it, and it has stuck with me.

                  Reply
          1. The Historian

            Interesting anecdote you have. But how many girls in that class did not go up to the teacher and kiss him full on? Yet you are willing to judge all girls by the action of this one? And frankly, what she did doesn’t sound sexual to me – sounds like the young lady took a stupid dare instead.

            You do understand that Jeffrey Epstein was charged with human trafficking, don’t you? Does that sound to you like the young girls he had actually wanted to be there? Yes, young girls can be as sexual as young boys, but somehow I don’t think they prefer men three times their age as sexual partners.

            Isn’t it time to stop blaming victims for their abuse? What Epstein and his friends did was wrong and there are no mitigating factors.

            Reply
          2. ChrisPacific

            I agree it’s quite a plausible scenario, except that it’s not what she said happened. She might be lying. Or she might be telling the truth, and Andrew is lying. So, as in most cases, it comes down to credibility and supporting evidence. The usual default assumptions (of which I’m sure you are aware, and which you can see in evidence in JB’s comment) are “women are asking for it” and “men can’t help themselves.”

            I’m not sure what your anecdote demonstrates, except that teenage girls can and do exhibit the same combination of strong sex drive and lack of judgement as teenage boys. Isn’t that the whole reason why we have age of consent laws in the first place? What if the teacher had decided to take the opportunity and bed those girls? Whose fault would that have been? Every teacher of high school age kids receives training on this.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Have a friend-now retired, who was a high school coach/teacher, and he told me that mainly on account of so many young girls parents getting divorced, there was always a coed or two in search of a father figure missing in their lives-that wanted to be clinger ons, and it was the no-no of no no’s, don’t go there terra firma, but still they came.

              This would’ve been in the 90’s to 00’s

              Reply
          3. JBird4049

            The 17 year old was the gold digger? People are different. People have agency at any age. Some really know what they want and go for. And others do not. Some people are more emotionally mature at 15 than most adults at 50. However, that does not negate the power imbalance or the responsibility of being a moral person.

            So, while I have no problem believing a 17 year old might have known what they wanted and was in some control of the situation, I rather think that the pimp known as Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her and others for years as underaged quasi sex slaves for his personal use and wealth. Girls to used up and discarded. Epstein was the gold digger using lust and powerlessness. Not them.

            I am rather forgiving, maybe too forgiving, of sexual peccadilloes, especially between consenting individuals. I really do dislike this age of the purity police.

            But Prince Charming was no hormonally deranged 20 year old with a 17 going on 21 teenager. That I might accept. He is a 59 year supposed old adult. That’s decades in difference of ages, and I really don’t see Andrew as some sort of Adonis. I think that this was just an older person taking advantage of his position and used his lust to override his sense of decency. He, like many others, accepted Epstein’s immoral offer, and failed his test of character by betraying his victim. He is a fricking prince. He could have involved the police without danger.

            I really hope that he keeps twisting in well deserved contempt.

            Reply
        2. a different chris

          For sure.

          > there’s a force on earth that will stop a 17-y/o from having sex short of locking them up

          Yes there sure is: somebody old on the other, um, “end”. And by that I mean anybody over 30. Young people are horny for other young people. Not Prince Andrew The Gross.

          Scary that John doesn’t get this. Kiwi, how the (family blog) old was this teacher? Did he look like ancient British royalty? I suspect not. Jesus. I’m gonna go puke now.

          Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        I second this brindle.
        What a strange hill for jb to die on.

        There is also that little law about transporting minors across state lines, much less to foreign countries.

        Reply
    1. mpalomar

      “Does anybody seriously believe there’s a force on earth that will stop a 17-y/o from having sex ”
      If I recall ancient history correctly, at 17 years old I was indeed the embodiment of that terrestial force.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Post of the day, although I had to read it twice to get it. :)

        I needed that after JB and Kiwi up there. Ugh.

        Reply
      2. inode_buddha

        Dunno about you, but at 17 I was gonna use my precious bodily fluids for wallpaper glue. There certainly was enough of it.

        Reply
    2. John

      Also, you say you think Epstein was killed. Well then, why was he killed?

      According to you the girls were willing, even eager to have sex with the older men he “entertained” and “palled” around with.

      According to you the girls were of consenting age somewhere on the planet.

      So why was he killed if there were no real crimes committed? (according to you)

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’m seriously wondering, first, what happened to any fetuses conceived on the Express or the Island, and, second, were some of the youngsters, both boys and girls, killed either during sex or afterwards? That crowd goes in for extremes of everything.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I’ve seen no reports of babies; apparently either they were very careful, or Epstein was shooting blanks. Which casts a light on his reported dreams of a personal breeding farm in the SW, at a ranch he owned. Boy, was that a squirrely report.

          Judging by reports, the whole project was based on money, not force. A couple of his victims reported being raped, but it wasn’t clear whether they meant forcible or statutory. It’s horrific even without violence, morally and psychologically destructive, at the very least. As you note, there have been much worse stories; one recently from Belgium.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Afterthought: According to a report I saw here, E. was intent on having 3 orgasms a day. That would make it very hard to conceive; the sperm count would never recover. Not a safe form of contraception, but pretty effective.

            Wouldn’t cover his friends, though.

            Reply
      2. Plenue

        I think the point he was making with the age thing is that in many places 17 or even younger is considered mature enough to make such decisions. That certainly was the case for most of history, with childhood basically being a Victorian invention. Many cultures have coming of age ceremonies, and at one time or other these weren’t a metaphor. You really were considered an adult while still being what today we would consider still a child.

        I think his point is that we’re infantilizing the 17 year old.

        But, like, maybe our ancestors were wrong on this one and it is enlightened to push the age of maturity back?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Pushing the age of maturity back is part and parcel of the exponentially complexifying society we inhabit. First, it keeps a big cohort of the population out of the labour force for a few years longer, thus ‘stabilizing’ the economy a bit. Second, it gives the “children” longer to ‘play around’ and learn about their environment. Extra ‘learning’ should translate into increased mastery of that environment. Thirdly, it allows the ‘children’ extra time to adapt to increasingly complex systems in the social, scientific, and economic spheres.
          Basically, evolutionarily, longer childhoods are a species survival strategy.

          Reply
    3. John Zelnicker

      @John Beech
      November 17, 2019 at 10:22 am
      ——-

      And the commenters above.

      I remember when I was 17, a very long time ago (and I have two adult daughters). While there are 16-17 year-old young women who are interested in sex, they are a very small minority. I also think those few would be totally uninterested in older men. They’re interested in the handsome quarterback or the good-looking nerd, no more than 3-4 years older.

      Epstein’s operation was human trafficking and serial rape, nothing more, nothing less.

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        “While there are 16-17 year-old young women who are interested in sex, they are a very small minority.”

        I call BS on this. If anything, I would expect anyone in the flush of puberty to be more interested in sex than later in life.

        But they’re interested in screwing boys their own ages, or a college stud at most. Not middle aged and old men.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I dunno. In the 1970, which like the late 1960s, was arguably the peak of the free sex era (pre AIDS!), I personally knew only a few women who were interested in getting laid, as in horny. One would be classified as a nymphomaniac, she had to bring a man home, it was always different men, and the few nights she didn’t she would pass out drunk (she was a roommate for a while so I got to observe this at close range). Other women were open to getting laid, and did so but it wasn’t an itch that had to be scratched.

          Apparently until maybe 5-10 years ago, kids were losing their virginity in high schoo BUT it was also common for girls to give boys blow jobs casually. The idea that women should give men low-cost sex because they are expected too is all wrong.

          Reply
    4. Fíréan

      A well beeched John. ( Beached whale, get it ? ).

      Has anyone asked Ghislaine Maxwell about the authenticity the photo of Andrew ( I’ve forgotten his surname ) and Ms. Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre), as in the unedited version of this photograph presenty circulating in the media Maxwell is standing to the left side of the young lady ?

      link to one example, should the reader not have seen previous :
      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/06/jeffrey-epstein-virginia-roberts-giuffre-prince-andrew-photo

      Reply
      1. Fíréan

        A better version of same photo including Maxwell

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2019/08/28/TELEMMGLPICT000002295808_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqoNNSexKcI53-HHJW8z5oHN2zu8eE3xlap_UxrZYPcsw.jpeg?imwidth=450

        There is software through one runs digital pictures and identifies any changeds in the photo due to photshop etc. As for photoshop this pic passes the test of authemticity.

        Will someone please enquire of Maxwell ?

        ps. in my humble opinion, and for what it’s worth, Epstein isn dead it’ sonly an opinion.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Have to find her first.

          As I wrote elsewhere, she’s probably in Israel under a new name – assuming she’s really Mossad.

          Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      You misrepresent the age of consent in the US – usually 18, occasionally 17 – but there is a consideration there: I understand it’s 17 in England, and Giuffre was probably that age when she was there. IOW, legal, letting the Prince off the legal hook.

      However, that doesn’t make the situation any less slimy. For one thing, she was underage when she was first recruited, and still underage in most of the US.

      In any case, Epstein, Maxwell, and their clients were taking ruthless advantage of the young and naive, and frequently breaking the law in the process. That’s why we have age of consent laws.

      Reply
      1. Grebo

        According to this only 11 states have 18 as the age of consent. All the rest are 16 or 17.

        In the UK it is 16, in Germany and Italy it is 14.

        According to this the global range is 11 to 21, though some countries ban sex before marriage regardless.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Thank you. I learned something – and apparently JB was right about that.

          So, 1) the prince is not prosecutable for events in Britain. 2) The real problem is that 16 or 17 is still shocking, even if legal, especially for partners who are not peers. And the girls were being conned into sexual servitude, very destructive.

          And I still wonder where the hell their parents were.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            Considering that “in the old days” marriages were usually arranged except for poor people who didn’t bother to get married anyway, and women had to start having babies as soon as they were able to in order to have two or three survive to care for them in their old age, I don’t understand where this idea that teenagers having sex is something horrible comes from. I remember the ’60s, when it was thought that finally old people would accept the reality that teenagers like “having sex.” I gather from the comments here that some don’t, or at least some people don’t remember how they felt when they were teenagers. I have read that many people do not enjoy “making love.” Anyway, in that photo Andrew doesn’t look that old to me. Probably to a seventeen year old girl he would.

            Reply
    6. The Rev Kev

      Historically it is common for men to marry women a year or two younger than themselves. This is nothing like that. This is a group of men, some of whom were quite old, who were deliberately targeting young teenage girls instead of women roughly their own ages. This is putting young girls into a vulnerable position and exploiting them. I read one account of a young girl with Epstein and it was rape pure and simple.
      In addition it was trafficking across international borders which happens to be illegal as well. I saw a film clip of outside Epstein’s mansion and you had to cringe when you saw how young that girl that you saw was in it. This was the one where good old Andy made a special guest appearance at the doorway. If they had been women in their twenties people would have said nothing but it was not – it was young teenagers. Even porn stars have to be a minimum age but Jeff, Bill and Andy – along with all the others – had no compunction about doing it anyway. Because they were rich enough or powerful enough to be able to do it.

      Reply
  13. richard

    Hi, here is j.dore asking tulsi gabbard to explain her vote condemning the BDS movement. I’m interested in hearing if anyone else can get more out of her answer, which sounds like gobbledy-gook to me. Dore is super friendly towards gabbard (he does support her campaign) but to his credit pushes her on this. A little. I would have compared the bds boycott to campaigns for black u.s. civil rights in the 50’s and anti-south african apartheid organizing in the 80’s, which were notable successes, and pointed out that boycott is one proven way to force the more powerful side in an unequal and unjust conflict to negotiate fairly. You can’t just say, I think the two sides should sit and negotiate, when one side is literally holding the other side prisoner.
    I support gabbard’s campaign as well. That said, she is dead wrong on this and needs to it again and again.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Not sure if people know that, while Tulsi Gabbard purports to oppose regime change wars, she is absolutely on the wrong side of the Ukraine issue. Her policy position is fully aligned with Schiff’s.

      Reply
      1. Geo

        I still am a fan of Gabbard, not because she’s actually anti-war, as is clear to anyone who actually listens to her, but because she’s sadly better than 99% of the elected reps we have on the issue.

        The party as a whole was never anti-war but we’re a long way from the early 2000’s. The establishment really did a thorough purge. No Kucinich or Wellstone types anymore. No Donahue. Olbermann and Maher got lobotomized. Moyers and Stewart retired. Colbert got bought off.

        Those that got it right have all been marginalized, expunged, or outlasted. At this point our most vocal allies are Sanders and Gabbard… both of which are good but not great on the issue. Heck, we’re so desperate for anti-war voices we’ve cautiously embraced the wretched Tucker Carlson on the issue!

        Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Certainly a deal-breaker in my house; my wife is a Palestinian rights campaigner. But we’re going to vote for a party that supports Palestine, anyway, and not in the Dem primary. That said, we could, and a lot Greens do, by changing their registration before the primary, and then changing it back. It’s pretty easy in Oregon. Gabbard probably won’t be getting Green votes with that position, and it might be one of the things holding her back.

      Reply
  14. arte

    Re “As Delhi pollution levels soar, customers throng an ‘oxygen bar’ for a breath of fresh air”

    A few years back, it was The Onion whose jokes were looking prescient. Now, the same thing seems to be starting to happen with Spaceballs.. (fresh-air-in-a can, attacking a planet for its stores of fresh air, etc)

    This is a worrying development.

    Reply
  15. anon in so cal

    Truly horrific forest fires in Bolivia’s Chiquitano Forest. Humans have set the fires for agricultural purposes, including beef exports to China.

    “Since August, about 7 million acres — about a sixth of the Chiquitano dry forest — have burned, and scientists are concerned the ecosystem could be irreversibly altered. The Bolivian government said Monday that rain had finally extinguished the fires, but an estimated 2 million animals died.

    Researchers believe the flames threatened some 4,000 plant species and 1,600 species of animals, including jaguars, tapirs, and giant anteaters. Compared to its neighboring regions, the Chiquitano also has more species of mammals, a third of which are threatened or endangered, like the giant otter, the giant armadillo, and the maned wolf.

    The animals that flee the flames are vulnerable, too. Hunters have lined up along the edge of the forest to gun down mammals leaving the protection of the canopy, according to Alfredo Romero-Muñoz, a Bolivian doctoral researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin who studies agriculture and hunting in the region.

    Slash and burn

    The fires in Bolivia, researchers and advocates believe, are largely set by people. They’re clearing forest for pasture because of a push to increase agricultural production for exports. In August, the country sent its first shipment of beef to China where an outbreak of African swine flu has decimated the pork supply and pushed the country to import from abroad”

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvgeeq/theres-an-ecocide-happening-in-the-fires-at-the-edge-of-the-amazon?utm_campaign=sharebutton

    Reply
  16. John Zelnicker

    Jerri-Lynn – A great set of Links today.

    I especially appreciate your including Caitlin Johnstone’s blog. She is one of the best bloggers on the ‘net today, IMNSHO. Her focus on narrative management as the lens through which to evaluate the offerings of the MSM and the elite propagandists is incredibly useful and enlightening.

    The OPCW scandal needs to be broadcast as far and wide as possible. So far, it seems to be only the more radical blogs that have addressed this (yes, I consider NC to be radical). I hope folks recognize that this is of a piece with the White Helmets (whose founder recently died (hmm?)) as a perfect example of narrative management for the interests of the American empire.

    Reply
  17. Jason Boxman

    On Google Search, contractors are constantly evaluating search results. Search for “leapforce” sometime, if you’re bored. Back in 2014, at least, they were recruiting contractors to work under Amazon Mechanical Turk-style conditions to evaluate search results for different user queries. The work wasn’t quite as poorly paid as Amazon, but still abysmal. You were paid per result that you evaluated. And you needed to complete the work quickly, only a moment or so per query to accurately review a dozen results for quality relative to the search terms used. (And you were graded randomly by secondary reviewers to ensure consistently and accuracy.) If you didn’t maintain a near perfect accuracy, at speed, you were put on probation and unable to complete any further work.

    Google was (is?) running a similar program for evaluating voice activated applications that developers were uploading for their assistant. (I know so little about these devices — I don’t want surveillance equipment in my house –, I don’t even know what Google’s is called?) I think much of Google is actually driven by lowly paid contractors, grinding it out.

    The history of humanity is one of exploitation.

    Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Watching the CBS NFL pre-game show with the 5 ex-players/coaches all sporting American flag lapel pins on their suits, as the youngest presenter threw a “OK Boomer” @ Phil Simms, when the latter disagreed over who was in the top 5 of running backs.

    What does it mean exactly in the new nomenclature, a put down, or meekly giving up?

    Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      What does it mean exactly in the new nomenclature, a put down, or meekly giving up?

      In this case, I’m betting it means Boomer Esiason with a side of pun.

      Reply
  19. kiwi

    Yet another dud article about tax fraud and Trump. No hard evidence, but it really, really, really looks like Trump committed tax fraud. Even two professors of real estate weighed in – so it’s gotta be true this time.

    From the article: Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real-estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the newly revealed tax records, told ProPublica that “it really feels like there’s two sets of books,” one for lenders and one for tax investigators.

    “In particular, Cohen accused Trump of inflating and deflating his loan and tax documents, respectively — an allegation that appears to bear similarities to what ProPublica reported this week.”

    More feelings and innuendo. Get me some real tax experts.

    The whole “oh noes, two sets of books!!!” pearl clutching is ridiculous. Newsflash – tax accounting and GAAP accounting do not match. Keeping records of financials, one for tax purposes and one for GAAP, is nothing new. If a business keeps books for GAAP purposes, at some point, it would need to convert those to a tax-based set of records when it files its taxes. And it would be next to impossible for those professors cited in the article to not know this.

    Further, it is nothing new for wealthy people and their tax advisors to try to minimize taxes in ways that manipulate tax laws. That is why the IRS has tax courts – to resolve these disputes. That is why Congress enacts more tax laws – to prevent the loopholes exploited by creative tax accountants/lawyers. (and I’m not arguing that this is right, that is just the way it is now)

    Big deal – again Trump tried to avoid taxes – which is not illegal, and likely presented both sets of data to any lender (or, I would hope a lender would request tax returns and GAAP books). Just depreciation alone – which is different for tax vs. GAAP, could account for some of these differences cited in the article.

    But that’s not going to stop his opponents from blowing something out of proportion. The IRS will eventually finish its review and bring charges if necessary.

    And I’m not saying Trump didn’t commit fraud of some sort.

    The hysteria over his taxes is just like the hysteria over anything Trump does: people hate Trump and genuinely believe that anything he does must be illegal. None of them care about what the law says, what precedents exist, what has been acceptable in the past, or the implications of their double standards.

    Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          Why would they? Obama was onside with the neoliberal Washington Consensus. They only needed to say mean things about him to get him moving.

          Both parties have a vested interest in the other party’s continued viability. Partisan politics is performance art.

          Reply
      1. dearieme

        The birther crap started with La Clinton’s campaign against O for the Dem nomination.

        I’ve seen it argued that, even earlier, the birther crap started with the blurb from one of O’s books claiming that he had been born in Kenya.

        Perhaps if there’s an NC reader who will admit to owning O’s books he or she might like to check that argument.

        Reply
    1. a different chris

      >And I’m not saying Trump didn’t commit fraud of some sort

      Great. Glad you got that.

      Let me let you in on a little secret: People at the top all have a tripwire. That’s actually how they get their foot in the door, the people currently “inside” deliberately pick those people so they can control them. As the newbies move up the ladder, they recruit likewise. Until you have this complete stink pot we have now.

      Nobody in Washington wants Mr. Smith there. They got a different lesson from the movie than the rest of us did.

      So Trump originally horrified them because they didn’t know his background. They are now happy that it turned out to be just as dodgy as theirs, so now they can exercise power over him. In this case, the only way they can think to use that power is to get rid of him. If he would do more for them he would stay. And he might.

      Thus the spectacle. It is “correct” as far as it goes, Trump has done a bunch of things that shouldn’t have let him be President in the first place, let alone continue. The shame is we won’t get anybody better as the sun basically sets on the rotted out USA. And all your fulminating is irrelevant in this particular petri dish.

      PS: this goes for the wealthy who puppet string Washington as well. Look at Bill Gates, providing clear signals to Trump that all Trump has to do is play the game the way Gates wants it played.

      Reply
  20. Craig H.

    > Google, Fitbit, Banking: Big Tech’s Bust Out?

    It was not obvious to me so maybe others might find it useful that BIG is the title of Stoller’s new blog; it is not our link compiler’s tag for the story! It is a pretty good story; I particularly liked the part where he read Page & Brin’s grad school writeup and he sort of infers Being_Evil was part of the plan from the get-go.

    During the comment vacation a couple months ago Lambert had a piece on Wallerstein’s magnum opus The Modern World System and there is one point that Wallerstein makes that everybody maybe could benefit from exposure to. He claims that in the normal condition of free market capitalism profit pegs out at zero and nobody makes any money at all. The only way that any capital can accumulate is when the system is distorted and specially positioned or lucky folks just rake it in for a time until everything adjusts. Now, Wallerstein is a Marxist as near as I can tell (or some variety of post-Marxist; he might have denied being any kind of Marxist; his M. W. System was more than enough Wallerstein for me; it is kind of demanding on the reader) but he presents a lot of evidence for his arguments. If you are against monopoly and profiteering and windfall profits and obscene profits and so forth, you have to be careful and convoluted to not be against capital.

    I am not against capital and I am not a Marxist and find it hard to argue against Wallerstein. I would never have gotten into a debate with the man.

    (Now the Goodfellas Bust Out as an analogy is flat wrong. It’s a good article but an atrocious analogy.)

    Reply
  21. verifyfirst

    I would like to compliment Jerri-Lynn Scofield on the assortment of sources represented in Links today.

    Normally when I scan the links, I have already read from a third to half the articles, and many of the rest seem fairly self-evident (humans screwing humans, in one not new way or another). Consequently I normally read just one or two articles per day (not that I don’t appreciate those!). I almost never have time to also read comments, sadly.

    Today is just chock full of interesting stuff! Thanks.

    Reply
  22. Quentin

    ‘Inventing a God’ is only one early example of narrative control: the Aztecs thought the Spaniards were gods. I remember learning that at grammar school. Just one more of the many examples I have forgotten or presumably will need to forget before the counter of my 74 years stops. Fascinating, the stories people invent. We are at this moment living through a panoply of self-serving stories about Trump and Russia and Ukraine and on and on…

    Reply
  23. Danny

    “Many of his patients are older couples and single women who want a family, but may have waited until too late…”

    Nicely glossed over, along with those all important fast food wrappers;

    “…Women consuming the least pesticide had a 7% chance of miscarriage, while women consuming the most pesticide had a 34% chance of miscarriage.
    The stunning implication of the study is that most infertile couples doing IVF would succeed in conceiving if they ate organic – or even “less poisonous”. This is proof that the food that we eat is not properly regulated.
    Genetically modified (GM) herbicide-tolerant crops are grown with large amounts of herbicides, a class of pesticide. For this reason, GM foods should be avoided by women who want to conceive.”

    https://www.gmoscience.org/pesticides-in-foods-can-harm-human-fertility/

    Reply
  24. fantastic voyage

    OTOH, stents can be very helpful. They’ve been very helpful to my brother for twenty + years. They sometimes need to be replaced, no big deal. Preventing unnecessary surgery. Is it possible this story is a covert shot at Sanders?

    Reply
    1. petal

      I don’t think so(not a shot at Sanders). It’s a large-scale study that takes time to do. Plus, there have been stories about MD’s/hospitals pushing and doing unnecessary stent placements because money. Your favourite search engine can provide you with them.

      Reply
  25. Portlander

    RE: Buttigieg tops Iowa poll

    According to the latest Des Moines register poll for October, Buttigieg is now a full nine points higher than his nearest rival, Warren, at 25% vs. 16%. He rose 16% and Warren dropped 6% from September. Sanders and Biden are even at 15%. Sanders rose a smidge, Biden dropped a lot. Klobuchar is at 6%, and everyone else is at 3%.

    The poll may not be a good predictor for the upcoming Caucus, but I find this development depressing.

    What’s going on in Iowa?

    Reply
    1. John

      He’s a Republican really. So there’s that.

      Or it’s a psyop to make people think they are losers if they support Sanders or Warren.

      Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      It’s not what’s going on in Iowa. The media have to ramp up Pete’s status to front-runner right now, to counteract any stories about his gaffe in SC the other day. Bet they are holding their hands over their ears while reporting the great news.

      Reply
    3. TroyIA

      For the past 3-4 weeks Buttigieg has had a major ad blitz in the state. I’ve seen the most ads from him followed by Tom Steiner and then the Republican Party anti-impeachment ads. I don’t know where Buttigieg got all his money all of a sudden but not only has he flooded the airwaves but his ads are actually well done and persuasive. He sounds very presidential without actually stating where he stands on the issues. I could see how someone would be influenced by seeing them, especially if they are the type of person who actually answers their phone and responds to surveys.

      In a more general sense as we get closer to the causcases expect to see the polls to become more fluid. I think Democrats in Iowa want someone new but they aren’t really sure of the exact policies they want from the candidates if that makes sense.

      If I were to handicap the race in a totally unscientific way it would be like this –

      Biden – too old
      Sanders – too old (As much as I hate to say it America missed a once in a generation chance in 2009 to shape social and economic policy for future generations. Thanks Obama!)
      Warren – too old/ just can’t connect
      Everybody else – it will be musical chairs until February

      Reply
    4. Lunker Walleye

      Not sure what is going on here but this “Pete upsurge” made me re-register as a D so I can caucus for Bernie. I believe the Register had HRC polling high before the caucus in 2016 and results turned out 50/50. (Bernie probably actually won.)

      Reply
  26. Geo

    Just curious why/how has the Trump tax issue not resulted in any sort of punitive action? Granted, I’m an idiot on the subject and still get anxiety just from seeing the letters “IRS” but years ago I had a lien and my bank account emptied by them for suspected taxes owed. Some was due to my own oversight (again, I’m an idiot) but some that was taken was not owed and had to jump through a ton of hoops to prove otherwise.

    Is this just another instance of if you owe a few thousand they throw the full force of the law at you but if you owe a few billion they cower before you? Sorta like, kill one man and you’re a murderer, kill a million and you’re a king?

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I would love to see an in-depth look at Hilary’s or Hunter Biden’s tax receipts, I’d think the inspectors would pay special attention to the “donations” made to the Clinton “Foundation”, whether those proceeds were used to fund any charitable activities whatsoever, whether there were resulting quid pro quos with regard to State Department approvals, whether funds were diverted (for Chelsea’s wedding for example), and whether the Foundation made timely and accurate tax flings (they didn’t).

      My point is that the precedent our wonderful Dems are setting by completely ignoring policy differences and solutions in favor of witch hunts, gotchas, and harassments will come back to bite them squarely on their own backsides.

      And I would note the complete lack of interest on the campaign trail for impeachment. No actual voters are asking about it, its ardent supporters like Gillibrand are out of the race, and its champions still in (Liz Warren) never even bring it up. How can that be?

      Reply
      1. anon in so cal

        IDK anything about the issue but remembered this:

        “In all, since 2007, Hillary and Bill made $139 million and gave $14.9 million to charity, but the couple donated all but $200,000 of its gifts to the Clinton Family Foundation, according to the WSJ….

        In 2014, the Clintons took in more than $28 million and claimed about $3 million in income as charitable tax deductions, according to tax returns released by Hillary’s presidential campaign last Friday, as reported by Politico.

        The family’s charitable contribution to itself was by far the largest it made in 2014. Other donations were made to smaller groups: the University of Arkansas, the American Ireland Fund, and the American Friends of the Peres Center, according to the Beacon.

        The Clintons are not directly paid by the Clinton Foundation, but they do spend an outsized portion of its money on travel and other expenses for the whole family, notes the WSJ.”

        http://www.hngn.com/articles/116271/20150805/the-clintons-sent-half-of-their-charitable-donations-to-their-own-charity-in-2014.htm

        Reply
      2. Geo

        Sorry, I did not include the prerequisite disclaimer with any complaint regarding Trump that I also hold the Dems in a similar distain for their corruption and misdeeds. I had wrongly assumed that since the article was about Trump that clarification of my feelings about Dems wasn’t pertinent and that was wrong of me. I had also assumed that my two prior comments above making disparaging remarks about the Dems and Clintons would allow for one sole comment today that did not mention them, but again, this was clearly wrong of me.

        In the future I’ll be sure any comments I make about Trump, Republicans, or any other entity of sociopolitical relevance not within the Democratic establishment will include a disclaimer that I find similar actions on the part of the Clintons, Obama, and the Democratic Party to be equally offensive so that any point I am speaking about is not stripped of value or seen as partisan witch-hunt pettiness.

        Thank you for pointing out and correcting this negligent oversight of mine. In that spirit, I just want to mention that you failed to mention that Hillary and Trump share the same “tax loophole” address in Biden’s state of Delaware as an additional indictment on how they are all in on the same big con together. Thought you would want that additional context for a post about lax tax enforcement for the rich & powerful to help illustrate a more in-depth picture.
        https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/25/delaware-tax-loophole-1209-north-orange-trump-clinton

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      The IRS loses most large tax cases that are disputed.

      1. The private sector tax lawyers are way way better.

      2. Even worse, the IRS is terrible at anything complex. I have heard stories of the IRS not comprehending certain types of private equity tax gaming even when it was carefully unpacked for them.

      As a result of 1+2, the IRS devotes far more effort to enforcement against small fry, since its odds of winning are way better.

      Reply
      1. Geo

        Thank you for the very succinct and helpful answer! Too bad for dolts like me that they don’t give the same leniency they afford themselves for those of us little people who are “terrible at anything complex” and can’t afford good lawyers and accountants. You’re spot on though. Much easier to win a small case against me then a big fry with a team of lawyers. :)

        Reply
  27. The Rev Kev

    “Bernie did a good job of responding to this lie-filled loaded question from rightwing escuálido regime-change propagandist Jorge Ramos”

    Now that is a change of tune. Bernie was all aboard with Washington’s attempted smash-and-grab for Venezuela’s oil but now he draws a line with Bolivia? Is it Bolivia’s lack of oil that makes the difference? Are some coups better than others?

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      Evo didn’t go as far as Maduro by tilting the legislative branch in his favor to extend his rule. I think that’s a point of constitutional procedure in representative democracy that Sanders considers a red line. Remember, he’s a senator.

      Reply
  28. BobW

    I have told people that some Trump votes could be seen as bricks through plate-glass windows, and maybe Brexit votes are like that too. If Remainers win and the slow-motion coup succeeds the pressure cooker lid will be screwed down more tightly. If and when it blows the choices may be more like Lenin and Hitler than Sanders and Trump. Oops, I said the “H” word, does that mean I lose?

    No fan of Trump, but I will confess to a surprising feeling of relief on waking to find out that Hillary lost.

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      I actually was astonished and then had a good laugh, and then said to myself “good, glad to see the back of her”.

      I guess the last part was wishful thinking.

      Reply
  29. VietnamVet

    The United States is in the middle of a Typhoon swirling towards swamping and Adam Schiff is investigating who stole the strawberries.

    When the Iraq invasion went ahead although patently crazy; truth decamped. The Obama/Biden Administration tripled down in Libya, Syria and Ukraine. The Big Lie is that Donald Trump bribed Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden and Burisma by holding back military aid needed to counter Russian Aggression. In reality, it was Western Aggression. Victoria Nuland and all above her supported the Maidan Coup that overthrew an elected government. Joe Biden spearheaded the restart of the Cold War by pushing Ukraine to seize the eastern ethnic Russian areas back from Separatists.

    Donald Trump’s crime is demoting government technocrats who see Russia as a mortal enemy in the Great Game. The tragedy is that the President hasn’t the slightest idea what is transpiring in the Eurasian wars from the ratline supporting jihadists, chlorine gas false flags, or not leaving Syria in order to steal their oil. Until the wars end, the truth will be missing in action.

    Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    Latest headline from Hong Kong: “Hong Kong police move on campus, threaten live rounds, retreat before growing flames.” WaPo. Video of burning police truck.

    Reply
  31. Plenue

    >Who Needs Literature? LA Review of Books.

    The snobs who pretentiously review literary fiction, of course.

    I’m not at all dismissing the value of good fiction. But I think there’s something inherently up its own ass about ‘literary literature’. The whole notion of a category of ‘serious’ realistic stories (as opposed to the presumably unserious ‘genre fiction’?) that have Something Important To Say™, either about great and/or varied matters (which to be fair Singer criticizes here; he didn’t like books being too overstuffed) or about ‘the human condition’, rubs me the wrong way. Aside from the fact that each of us lives the human condition every damn day, so do we really need commentary on it, many of the best explorations of such matters exist outside the realm of ‘serious’ literature. For example, you want to learn about motherhood? Go watch Wolf Children and Maquia. You’ll get more out of four hours of Japanese cartoons with dragons and werewolves than you will out of a thousand pages of ‘real literature’.

    That’s not to say there isn’t good literary fiction, because obviously there is. I hold The Quiet American in extremely high esteem. But personally, I’ll get more out of rereading Dune again than I’d get out of a hundred Anna Karenina’s.

    Reply

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