Links 11/5/19

The 1-ton ‘Wizard Rock’ has magically returned to an Arizona national forest CNN

The Universe Might Be a Giant Loop Live Science (Nature). Which explains our news cycle.

State Pirates in the Dock The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal. This story was broken by The Blog That Must Not Be Named™ in 2017.

U.S. moves closer to withdrawing from Paris climate pact Science

Arctic islands 8 degrees warmer than normal Barents Observer

What the climate’s ‘new normal’ is doing to Lake Superior MinnPost (CL).

People who make at least $100K benefit most from this tax break. That’s one reason it’s in trouble McClatchy. For EVs.

Democrats’ Baffling Blind Spot On Cars HuffPo

Lead levels in Canadian water ‘exceed safe limit’ in a third of cases BBC. From an enormous collaborative project by Concordia’s Institute for Investigative Journalism.

Brexit

Downing Street rules out extending the Brexit transition period past 2020 as Number 10 slaps down a Cabinet minister who said free trade talks with the EU will not be ‘straightforward’ Daily Mail and Brexit: muddying the waters EU Referendum

Election stakes are high for Boris Johnson after bold NHS gamble Guardian. “[Tories] are trumpeting record levels of funding, plans for 40 new hospitals in England and a further cash bonanza to buy new scanners and other vital equipment.” Tarting it up before selling it off for parts?

Corbyn Goes on the Attack in Brexit Speech: U.K. Campaign Trail Bloomberg

Farcical cememony:

It’s time to reverse the Beeching Axe Unherd

Bristol Southmead Hospital: Racist patients could have treatment withdrawn BBC

Syraqistan

The Coming Middle East Conflagration The Atlantic

China?

Xi meets Lam in first official talks since protests began FT. The lead: “Xi Jinping met Hong Kong’s chief executive and ‘demanded unswerving efforts’ to quash violent protests in the territory, in the first official talks between the two leaders since the unrest began in June.”

Two journalists arrested as riot police storm malls around Hong Kong and deploy pepper spray Hong Kong Free Press

In a Hong Kong tea house Beijing loyalists decry protests Agence France Presse

Hong Kong’s protest violence will only hasten the city’s integration into ‘one country’ South China Morning Post

Tear Gas and Petrol Bombs No Match for Hong Kong Property Demand Bloomberg

* * *

China’s slam dunk of the NBA is a game changer The Interpreter

Mekong shrivels as drought, dam strangle SEAsia’s largest river Agence France Presse. Makes me wonder about salt water incursion into the rice paddies of the Mekong delta in Vietnam, too.

India

Delhi struggles to breathe but not even in top 10 polluted Indian cities India Today

Brazil Apart, by Perry Anderson FT

Global Protests

Readers, I hate the name of this category because I don’t know if “protest” is the right word. OTOH, “End-Stage Neoliberalism” or “Globaldämmerung” seem a little triumphalist. I’m also keenly aware that international reporting will be, at the very best, not granular enough. Nevertheless, I insist that global protests are one story, if only because of their simultaneity, and so I need a bucket to throw them in. Here it is, FWIW.

‘Chile Woke Up’: Dictatorship’s Legacy of Inequality Triggers Mass Protests NYT

Protesters block roads in Beirut, other areas of Lebanon Reuters

Lebanon’s Protests Will Rage On Foreign Policy

Uh oh:

Intelligence community bigfoot blames outside agitators:

Burn CIA and FBI to the ground? Start over? Sic Semper Tyrannis

The Enemy Within Chris Hedges, Truthdig (JZ).

New Cold War

Russia is winning, but here’s the catch Five explanations for the Kremlin’s recent foreign-policy dominance (and why it’s not such a rosy picture after all) Meduza

Trump Transition

Hero dog declines White House invitation Duffel Blog

Trump team has a plan for national parks: Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts Los Angeles Times

Impeachment

‘Seven whistleblowers’ Spectator USA. Big if true.

Hunter Biden’s Ukraine gas firm pressed Obama administration to end corruption allegations, memos show John Solomon (CL).

Trump’s Impeachment Lures Democrats Into a Cold War Mentality Aaron Maté, The Nation

Our Famously Free Press

The Ham-Handed, Money-Driven Mangling of Sports Illustrated and Deadspin The New Yorker

Imperial Collapse Watch

US navy secretary warns of ‘fragile’ supply chain FT

The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling Fast Company

Class Warfare

Who Owns Silicon Valley Mercury-News. Scroll past the stupid graphic, this is real reporting.

The Wages of Roediger: Why Three Decades of Whiteness Studies Has Not Produced the Left We Need Nonsite. “Conflating identity and interests.” Dense, but worth a cup of coffee. You’ll like this, if this is the sort of thing you like.

Asia’s Heirs Hit Wealth Boot Camp Ahead of Record Inheritance Bloomberg

The migrant debt cycle WaPo. Microlending. Who could possibly have known?

Rustam Aliev Craig Murray (CL).

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

163 comments

          1. Wukchumni

            Presumably somebody must’ve turned the internet on initially, is there a kill switch to turn the whole thing off?

            Reply
    1. Steve H.

      Protest has a nuance, of a particular aspect of sociopolitical instability or unrest. There is something really important to people about mass gatherings. As Howard S. Becker said, “There’s never nothing going on.” Even during lulls, people are being with each other. And you can measure the group in real terms, numbers, biomass. (I wonder about oxytocin levels.)

      Results have varied on actual political impact. Perhaps, a year from now, crowds could provide a referendum if the posted numbers don’t match expectations. I’m not expecting hand-marked hand-counted ballots to be implemented by then.

      Reply
    2. Grant

      It reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s “divine violence”. People are angry and confronting those in power, but there doesn’t seem to be a widespread vision to replace the system that is causing the injustice and systematic violence. It is one thing to address an authoritarian system in one country, but what about the inequitable, environmentally destructive and often authoritarian world economic system? If a developing country is struggling at least in part because of its particular place in the international economic system, replacing an authoritarian government in that country would be a good thing, but the benefits could be limited if international issues aren’t also part of the equation, and how do developing and underdeveloped countries do this in isolation? How do they do this without confronting developed countries, especially the rich leaders in developing countries and the international institutions they control? I saw the same thing with the yellow vests. It is great to get out and challenge those in power, but what exactly do you replace their system with? If that isn’t front and center, what often happens is that you replace one inequitable, undemocratic and corrupt system with another. To me, that is why there is great value in the West with Bernie and Corbyn. They have a vision, actual alternatives, provide some actual solutions that might address our largest societal problems, and they don’t shy away from the radical changes needed or the necessity of social movements in pushing these things through.

      The New International Economic Order was a vision, agree or disagree with it. The ideas of the World Social Forum and the alter-globalization movement are worth exploring too. But, in my experience among activists these days, there is very little focus on international economic issues. Among younger activists I have met, there isn’t a widespread understanding and knowledge about the WTO, or the IMF and the like. 20 years ago, young people on the left involved in activism were more aware of these things. It could just be my experiences, but I don’t think so. Neoliberalism did tons of damage, but possibly the most damaging thing is getting people to stop thinking about systematic alternatives, being open to things that don’t yet exist or don’t at least exist domestically.

      Reply
    3. rtah100

      “The Uprising”, please, Yves. With a soundtrack by Muse.

      Or possibly “The Stand”, if you’re feeling gloomy.

      Or, as you may as well die laughing, “Fear and Loathing”.

      Reply
  1. Ignacio

    I like that ‘hybrid warfare’ term from Mr. Morell as a way to construct a narrative of useful idiots… Fighting that phantasmagoric hybrid warfare you can justify whatever action at will.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Yep, a whole new realm in which the neocons and war gamers and Battlespace Managers get to play. Because “threats to our national interest” and ”security” [undefined terms] include EVERYTHING.

      One bunch with a pedigree of dissembling and failure has this to offer, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/CT400/CT468/RAND_CT468.pdf . And there’s this piece that indicates uncertainty over which part of the world warfighter/war gamer complex is going to control the lexicon, and of course the procurements and looting opportunities that go with that institutional-infighting victory: https://www.gao.gov/mobile/products/GAO-10-1036R

      And not to worry, our British cousins’ Borg is on the case: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/647776/dar_mcdc_hybrid_warfare.pdf

      Of course it’s all the damn Russians doing it. If “it” actually exists as a category and not just more self-licking MilBabble: https://www.nato.int/docu/review/articles/2015/05/07/hybrid-war-does-it-even-exist/index.html

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        From your third link:

        It describes hybrid warfare as the synchronized use of multiple instruments of power tailored to specific vulnerabilities across the full spectrum of societal functions to achieve synergistic effects.

        So it is, according to Mr. Morell, that protests in Chile are just part of a synchronized use of instruments of power… etc etc… to achieve synergistic effects. And…

        The relative novelty of hybrid warfare lays in the ability of an actor to synchronize multiple instruments of power simultaneously and intentionally exploit creativity, ambiguity, non-linearity and the cognitive elements of warfare.

        I really don’t know if in the case of Chile what is exploited is the non-linear, the creative or the ambiguous element of warfare.

        Hybrid warfare are typically tailored to remain below obvious detection and response thresholds, and often rely on the speed, volume and ubiquity of digital technology that characterizes the present information age.

        But, chilean government obviously didn’t notice that it was below response thresholds so they responded too harshly doubling on non-linearity and synergistic effects.

        Reply
    2. Lee

      I used to see him pretty regularly on the Charlie Rose show. A really creepy dude. Here’s a link to him apparently legitimizing torture because Bush authorized it. He accuses the Democrat Senate of producing a repart falsely characterizing the torture program as a rogue operation to the detriment of the CIA. How things have changed.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdITBCKtVDc

      And here’s another justifying torture:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJw30A8RRKI

      Reply
  2. flora

    re: Trump team has a plan for national parks: Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts

    Trump is no Teddy Roosevelt.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      One thing that makes our National Parks special is the idea that no price gouging is allowed by the concessionaires, despite having the most cloistered of audiences. No $7 Pepsi, or $12 Miller Lite like you’d run into @ a sporting event or concert.

      Its a slippery slope in getting there, and it must’ve really irked the likes of Delaware North et al, to be missing out on making bank as they do @ stadiums they run.

      Reply
    2. dearieme

      That Amazon could deliver a National Park right to your doorstep is pretty impressive. I suppose they’ll use drones?

      Reply
    3. inode_buddha

      It wouldn’t surprise me if the food trucks feature the local critters and plants, until they run out of raw material and go out of business.

      Reply
  3. Olga

    Air pollution in India
    It is true… I’ve had five sinus infections in the year following a trip to India, including Delhi. Never had them before (and thought it was a flu). Even with a face mask, there’s really no remedy… except for high winds (which Delhi does not have often). Until I saw it… I remembered all those stories about pollution in China – but it does not even come close.
    The thing I don’t get… a lot of that pollution is from burning fields (after harvest). The govt – which does nothing to stop pollution – could at least try to restrict the burning, but there’s no sign of any action.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Pollution levels in India are far more dangerous than in China. In China the pollution is primarily heavy particles from coal use – very nasty, but not nearly as deadly as the cocktail in poorer countries where a mix of low grade fuel for vehicles and numerous back yard burners incinerating anything they can get their hands on has created a hellish brew of chemicals. In many ways its beneficial to have ‘dirty’ pollution such as in China where at least people know when the air is bad – in India and other countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan, the pollution is of the less visible but much more dangerous variety. As an asthma sufferer I often feel like a canary – I can feel quite quickly where pollution is at its worst and Delhi is the worst I’ve ever experienced.

      Reply
    2. anon in so cal

      Eight years ago when we landed in Delhi, the jet filled up with an acrid burning odor. At first, I thought the equipment was at fault. On several different days, we were effectively stuck inside our hotel. I could not see the buildings across the street so it was unsafe to go anywhere. When we were at a birding sanctuary in Bharatpur, we could hardly see across the trail.

      Reply
    3. eg

      My brother visited Mumbai 20 years ago or so. He described the olfactory assault upon leaving the plane thus: “jam a turd up one nostril and a tailpipe up the other”

      Reply
  4. voteforno6

    Re: Kushner & MBS

    That story certainly got my attention. I wonder just how solid Cockburn’s sources are…this one could cause some serious headaches for Trump, et. al.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      If the MBS story is correct, especially the Erdogan part, and he does what he does back (saying “yes, I did, so what?”), I’d say he’s doomed.

      Not by any impeachement, but I can’t see his supporters believing his MAGA if he lets himself to be blackmailed by a second-rate autocrat.

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        Maybe even if he refuses to cut Kushner loose. The outrage over Kashoggi’s murder is bipartisan – this whole thing could get ugly.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’m tempted to remark that the ‘murder by operatives’ “outrage” concept is class based. Kashoggi was apparently a paid up member of the “Upper Class.” For him to be done away with is a transgression against the elites self conception of being ‘exceptional.’
          Contrast that case with the daily occurrence of events like the death of the poor fellow selling ‘loosies’ in New York or the woman shot by a policeman in her own home while playing video games on her own television. No outrage is to be seen or heard from the elites over those events.
          That the “outrage” over the death of Kashoggi is bi-partisan in the American Congress is not so much a signal of the essential empathy for the victims of violence by that assemblage as it is an assertion of exceptionalist thinking by a group that is itself self defined as “elite.”
          To the elites of the American Corporo-Governmental system, Trump is an ‘outsider.’ Even though he has governed as a full on ‘Free Market Capitalist,’ he is not “one of us” for the ‘exceptionalist’ cohort. At this point, I will venture to opine that the Trump ‘phenomenon’ is indeed a big middle finger from the Deplorables to the Elites. Many have decided, after finally admitting to themselves the ultra-unequal nature of America today, to embrace the almost nihilist philosophy of; “A pox on both your houses.”
          Soon now, the factious chaos of a divided and adversarial population in America, the bogey man that Roosevelt tried to contain in the 1930’s, will re-erupt.

          Reply
  5. John Beech

    Democrats’ Baffling Blind Spot On Cars HuffPo

    This may be the stupidest article I have ever read. Sure, compare American drivers to those in Norway . . . right! It’s like they have no concept of how people really live in America and ‘why’ cars are a necessity to get around.

    Let’s ask Susan, an experienced new York City dweller and who just moved to Birmingham if she can make do without a car. What’s her take, now?

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      X2 there’s only a handful of cities in the US where you can get by without. Also, this maybe job/career-specific too. Try living out in “the sticks” and working in the trades without a truck. It doesn’t end well, you actually do need some cargo capacity on a regular basis.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Bu bu but the Truck is but one of Satan’s suv buggys .. They need to be crushed, as in a ‘clash-for-woke-thunker’s’ green new $teal $cheme, right along with whatever useful conveyances are Still out there .. rolling around, barely within the grasp of the stupid shlubs trying to navigate the mean streets of Gov/Corp/NGO policy ! …. well, those that still have any viable, unfrayed boot straps to pull up that is ..

        Let them eat sabots ! … right ??

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          My operational theory is that the Greens won’t be happy until everyone else is living in mud huts, looking for bugs to eat. And maybe not even then, because bugs aren’t part of a vegan diet.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            That description applies if at all to only a tiny fraction of the Greens. People who are as far off the scale as the tiny cohort of Squillionaires who can and are forcing or inducing the rest of us to live out their nightmare preferences. Not to mention the tiny cohort of Neocon warfighters who cling to their nuclear weapons and dreams of full spectrum dominance. I’m sure there are other tiny cadres that actually have their thumbs on the carotid arteries of the populace, much more menacing than the few Greens that hold the views you mention.

            Which are more dangerous?

            But we are so well accustomed to divide and conquer our mopeish selves…cue the Walt Kelley Pogo Observation,,,

            Reply
      2. Hepativore

        I have lived in rural areas ranging from just a few hundred to a few thousand people. In all of those locations, public transportation was non-existent. While I would like to be able to take a bus to work or elsewhere, they are practically non-existent in very rural areas.

        Now, do not get me wrong, I like rural places, but you are not even going to be able to get to the grocery store which is fifteen miles away without a car. If somebody can figure out a public transportation system for very sparsely populated places in the US, I am all ears.

        Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      People take the plane a lot more often in Norway, say from Oslo to Stavanger.

      The number of Teslas on the road there is sort of astounding.

      Reply
    3. John k

      I don’t like the false point that ‘switch to e cars will double electricity demand, and if this comes from coal…’
      Coal plants are shutting down, can’t compete w nat gas. Gas plants already little used in Ca bc of cheap solar. Night time usage provided by batteries whose price is falling like a rock.
      Recent wholesale bid solar plus storage accepted by tx utility is .022/kwhr. No fossil fuel competes w that, and next years price will be lower.
      E cars problem remains high battery cost, former problem of too few charging stations mostly fixed, and without gov subsidies. Battery cost is dropping, and billions finally going into research in search for better solutions. Material shortages similarly addressed, lithium price just now falling. As always, higher price generates more supply and falling price.
      Tesla cars most popular of all brands based on CR owner surveys. Just need lower price for widespread use… so dem plans of massive e car subsidies are spot on. The phase out of subsidies is premature, plus those first to market that shouldered greatest cost and risk (eg tesla built coast to coast charging stations that properly should have been gov/utility cost), should not be penalized vs those entering later. How to pay for it?
      0.10/g tax funds about $10k/ car for 1000000 cars/ yr, twice current sales. (Adds 1B/ yr to Tesla revenues based on existing but soon declining 7,5k subsidy, maybe becomes profitable?) The tax can increase as e car demand grows.
      Granted not gonna happen under rep pres, but that is true of many things.

      Reply
    4. David B Harrison

      Ah the typical American libertarian(comes in both liberal and conservative flavors)ideology.I live in the middle of nowhere and have to depend on automobiles for everything(I have driven over a million miles in my life).The automobile is the most destructive creation on Earth and it is an object of worship in America(like guns which I also own).It maims and kills hundreds of thousands of people.It is the greatest destroyer of community ever devised.If you told me that I could live in a well planned city that was based on positive human interaction(Lewis Mumfords’ Garden cities for example)I would pack my bags right now.I was a caregiver for my disabled parents for several years and the social and physical isolation that we suffered was terrible.The libertarian mindset is in perfect agreement with Margaret Thatchers’ belief system(There is no such thing as society only individuals and families).In America there is a refusal to do anything whatsoever to fix our socioeconomic and environmental nightmares.I have attempted to create groups of concerned citizens in my area to no avail.Nobody believes in cooperation or fellowship.It’s all about the self.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Thanks for this. Well thanks for the elegant writing, the subject conveyed is of course as depressing as all heck.

        Reply
      2. dearieme

        Margaret Thatchers’ belief system(There is no such thing as society only individuals and families).

        That’s not what she said: you should try reading her remarks.

        Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    ‘Former CIA Director Michael Morell…blaming the massive anti-austerity protests in Chile against a right-wing billionaire oligarch president on… Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia.’

    Just professional jealousy on Michael Morell’s part as staged protests were his job when he was acting director of the CIA.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Not that Morell’s tweet wasn’t ridiculous, and good on Ben Norton for immortalizing it with a screengrab. But Norton himself is part of the “the protests in Hong Kong are a fake US color revolution” crowd, so I’m not sure he’s in any position to be throwing stones.

      Reply
  7. Judith

    Saker published this historical perspective on the protests in Lebanon on his blog:

    Hiding the West’s ongoing neo-colonialism in Lebanon via blaming Iran (1/2) by by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

    http://thesaker.is/hiding-the-wests-ongoing-neo-colonialism-in-lebanon-via-blaming-iran-1-2/

    “What I have described is three decades of oligarchic economic corruption, mismanagement and economic far-right neglect, and here is the bill: At 158% Lebanon’s debt to GDP ratio is the 5th highest in the world, just behind Greece.

    Few commentators go further, however: Lebanon’s external debt to GDP ratio is only around 45%, implying that there is a lot of money in Lebanon but held – in an inherently corrupt manner – by extremely few hands. And this is certainly the case: Lebanon’s richest 0.1% own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent, making Lebanon one of the most unequal countries in the world.

    Lebanon is thus an economically rudderless, economically unequal and economically corrupt nation, and it is quite obvious that none of this happened because of late-arriving, poor-loving Hezbollah or Iran.

    It is absolutely preposterous to believe that Iran or Hezbollah is the source of Lebanon’s inequality and corruption, and thus that they could be the true target of protesters. The Western Mainstream Media – mostly privately owned, incredibly chauvinistic – is trying to sell an anti-Iran/anti-Hezbollah conspiracy even though the Lebanese themselves will not be fooled by it for one second.

    The West, especially France, created, applauded and profited Lebanon’s economic corruption via their unstinting support for the corrupt and despised Hariris, and also Israel’s expatriate-inducing, infrastructure destroying invasions. France’s role in saddling Lebanon’s economy with two million of Syrian and Palestinian refugees is also glossed over by the Western mainstream media, of course.”

    Reply
    1. Olga

      The protests have very legitimate causes (mainly, lots of corruption), but – as is often the case – also have foreign help. The destabilisation of the govt (which is a very finely balanced edifice, given the many factions in Liban) is the goal. It would be a way to get at Hezbollah, which certain countries (near and far away) do not like. And it would be a way to continue the war against Syria.

      Reply
    2. David

      I don’t think any serious western observer believes that Hezbollah is responsible for the current mess, which has been growing at least since the end of the Civil War. The origins are in the confessional/clientist system installed at the end of the war, and which has provided a certain stability, but has also turned Lebanese politics into a kind of oligarchy in which confessional leaders (many of whom were figures in the Ciivl War itself) carve the country and the state up among themselves, and profit from it, whilst ordinary people are increasingly impoverished. The West is not responsible for the current Lebanese political system against which the protests are directed, nor are the Israeli invasions, nor is the war in Syria.
      Hezbollah is indeed a target for the protesters and legitimately so. The protests are, more than anything else, an outburst of popular rage against the political class, which is not just corrupt: you need a new vocabulary to really describe it, and the depth of anger felt by ordinary people to their leaders, who, however, they keep electing. Broadly, everybody wants an end to confessional politics, but only as long as the position of their confession is safeguarded. Hezbollah began as an outside force, but for more than a decade it’s been the establishment Shia political party, and more than ever since the 2018 elections. It is an essential party in any government and, whilst it has a better reputation for honesty than the rest, it is effectively propping up a rotten system. The fact that Nasrallah has spoken out against the protests and supported Hariri hasn’t helped either.
      Of course the West dislikes Hezbollah intensely, and wants to reduce its role and perhaps even abolish it. But that’s a different issue. No western government wants to stir up political trouble in Lebanon because the consequences are potentially disastrous beyond imagining. The country is the last bastion of something like stability in the Levant, and a lot of effort has gone into stabilising the country over the last 15 years since the Syrians left. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have their interests there, but neither wants the country to go up in flames either.
      Unfortunately, the presentation of the Lebanese problem in the western media isn’t very well-informed, and often superficial. You’d do much better (Lambert might want to take note) to go to local sources. The Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies has been on the case for years, predicting something like this, and the Carnegie Middle East Centre has also published some useful stuff. In both cases, they use local experts, writing in English and Arabic.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        “No western government wants to stir up political trouble in Lebanon because the consequences are potentially disastrous beyond imagining.”
        Wrong on the first part of the sentence; correct at the end.
        There are western – or western-affiliated – powers that would LOVE to stir up trouble in Liban – the goal is to destroy Hezbollah, continue Syrian war, and weaken Iran. This has been clear for quite some time.

        Reply
        1. David

          Which powers do you have in mind? As I pointed out, there’s a big difference between hostility to Hezbollah, which is widespread,among western powers, and a desire to actually damage or even destroy the country. I’ve seen no evidence of the latter in years of involvement with the country.

          Reply
          1. Cian

            You didn’t say damage the country, you said stir up political trouble. There have been plenty of examples of the latter over the last ten years.

            Reply
      2. Cian

        I haven’t seen any reports from reliable sources suggest that Hezbollah are being protested against. Amaal tried (unsuccessfully) to pin the blame on them a couple of weeks ago, and many Shi’ite protestors are unhappy that they haven’t been more supportive of the protestors (they have been quietly supportive).

        And I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Nasrallah has spoken out against the protests, or has been particularly supportive of Hariri on this issue.

        No western government wants to stir up political trouble in Lebanon because the consequences are potentially disastrous beyond imagining.

        This is something western governments do all the time. It’s rarely very effective because they have little understanding of the country’s dynamics, but it certainly doesn’t stop them.

        Reply
        1. David

          Well, four journalists have resigned this week from Al Akhbar, the party newspaper, in protest at its uncritical relaying of Nasarllah’s attempts to portray the popular uprising as a conspiracy directed from abroad. I suspect they may be at least as well informed about events on the ground as you or me.
          But that’s not really the point I was trying to make. Hezbollah retains a great deal of support and respect for its role in defending the country against Israel, and because it is generally admitted, even by its critics, to be basically honest in a political system which is otherwise totally corrupt. But the fact that it has been in government for a long time now means that it can’t easily escape its share of responsibility for the state the country is in. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Hezbollah is being targeted particularly by demonstrators, but on the other hand it is stuck in a very uncomfortable position, effectively obliged to defend the system of which it has become part.

          Reply
  8. PlutoniumKun

    It’s time to reverse the Beeching Axe. Unherd

    Reversing closed railway lines is almost impossible – modern engineering standards for a line are far higher so the cost of bringing a 19th Century line back into use can be far greater than is justifiable. Many of those lines end up with a new life as leisure cycle and walking routes. The best hope for expanding railways in most situations is using modern technology to allow for more frequent services – in Ireland they are exploring the use of battery powered rolling stock to make smaller, more frequent services viable on existing lines. And doing what the Japanese and Koreans have done – invested in new high speed and high capacity lines in order to free up space on existing narrow gauge lines can also work well, although inevitably at a very high financial cost.

    It also can’t be done incrementally. Local railways are still viable in Japan and Switzerland because the very dense network and high frequency means people can rely on them for daily business, and so use them. I was recently stranded in a remote area of Shikoku with just my bike, but no means of getting to where I was going to (long story). I was able to cycle down to a valley without even checking on schedules, knowing I’d find a railway station in any modest sized village, and be able to be on a train in an hour, and be able to link easily to where I wanted to go. This is possible only in a very few countries, and in each case its because for historic reasons the small lines were never abandoned, and because the governments are willing to support the operators (even in Japan, most of the small lines are big financial loss makers).

    The best hope for these small lines is that lightweight EV trains – maybe even driverless ones – can make these viable again. But it would require a vast amount of money in somewhere like the UK to recreate the sort of network that once existed, and realistically there are probably more efficient ways of achieving the same aim – such as a good bus network.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      I believe the main thing on Beeching lines is that they are still corridors, that could be used to lay new tracks etc. For example, IIRC, one of the objections to HS2 was that it wasn’t using the old Beeching corridors, and was building new tunnels at horrendous costs. How usable they really were (remember, it was just land, all would have to be build on top of that), I have no idea.

      Reply
      1. larry

        They were also destroying forests, such as they are; quite a large number and for no good reason as you point out, vlade. The money isn’t really the problem. Where are the necessary resources going to come from such as the rails or the cars within a reasonable time frame?

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        If its like the unused track beds in the U.S., they are more or less ready for tracks to be laid for their respective gauges. Our “lousy” rail here is fine because the track beds can fit two rail lines, but to increase the gauges for “faster trains”, the beds are only fit for one. Basically, one track of faster trains would carry 75% of what two tracks of slower trains can handle without needing to get into rights of way and seizing property. Everything would be linked.

        The long time Virginia transportation secretary was fairly eager to turn much of the unused track beds into a process of removing freight trucks from the roads. It would reduce the extra complexity of stops and dealing with passengers. There was room for short lines that would work to reduce congestion in population centers too. His goal (it would require a multi-state effort) was to largely move the I-81 (which is known for its trucks) freight traffic to the old rail lines. Biden as Senator and then Vice President never lifted a finger.

        Like anything, the real issue is switching stations, labor, where population centers have been built in relation to the track beds. My guess is the track beds themselves are set and ready to handle traffic. They just need access points and what not.

        Reply
      3. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade.

        That is certainly the case with HS2.

        For example, much of the corridors for the Central Railway is available, London to Sheffield.

        Using that corridor, and linking it up with what was and will be the Varsity Line and the disused underground lines, especially the one from the City towards the west London, would add capacity.

        My native Buckinghamshire is where the Varsity and Central met.

        Reply
    2. dearieme

      One reason to be sceptical of the writer is this lie: since the 1960s when the then Conservative government commissioned huge cuts to the rail network — the infamous Beeching Axe.

      Just not true. What happened was that the Conservative government indeed commissioned Beeching’s investigation. But the government that put it into effect was the succeeding Labour government.

      I must say that many of Beeching’s recommendations were entirely sound. We had lots of scarcely used routes that had been built in the 19th century railway booms and could never hope to be economical or even socially useful. Were some of his recommendations too much? I don’t know – I’m no expert. But it’s an unusual human who makes no mistakes, especially when he’s judged with the benefit of hindsight.

      On the subject of railways: I’m hoping that all the party manifestos for the general Election will promise to cancel the absurd High Speed Rail 2 project. It will carry you from quite close to Birmingham to somewhere in North West London at a cost of …. God knows what, the price tag keeps increasing: perhaps, realistically, a couple of hundred billion. And it’ll be years late.

      There was, most unusually, a good recent telly programme on this. The economist who presented it suggested that if money were to be lavished on the rail network the place to start was on the commuter lines needed in the Manchester conurbation. I have no love for Manchester but I dare say he’s right.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        I don’t disagree.

        With regard to the Metropolitan and Chiltern lines, much the former was axed from the 1950s and completed by Beeching. The latter was planned to be axed, but survived after protest.

        Axing the Chiltern made no sense as Aylesbury expanded to take on migrants from London and nearby Milton Keynes, on different lines, was planned.

        Reply
        1. John A

          Apropos the Beeching Axe. The Conservative Minister of Transport who commissioned Beeching to wield his axe, happened to belong to a family business that engaged in building motorways that were then recommended to replace these railways. Just another example of Tories scratching each other’s backs.

          Reply
          1. dearieme

            So Harold Wilson put the Beeching Report into effect especially so he could enrich Ernie Marples? Don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?

            Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      Part of what’s apparently killing the planet is “travel.” All these people having to move their bodies from here to there and back again, and all these “goods” too. All because “liberty and freedom” and “economic determinism” and lack of planning with an eye to long term survival.

      Who will ride the unbuilt “high speed rail?” Who will pay for those lines? How does any of these schemes to move people, “goods” like mystery meat and single use plastics, hither and yon, offer a payoff in what for various species’ sakes ought to be vigorous efforts to localize and trend toward autarchy (that dirty word)?

      On the other hand, if these scientists are right, our departure altogether from the scene might just be the inspiration-expiration, one long breath, of Gaia, so who cares, right? https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/fulltext/S0169-5347(18)30118-6

      Dance, dance, dance, no matter what comes after.

      Reply
    4. ObjectiveFunction

      Great comment here, PK. I learned a lot, cheers.

      Also, I loved the Ojibwe elder’s take on the Lake Superior flooding in that clip:

      What if I told you that old Ojibwe spirits are active and working in real time to protect Lake Superior? Trying to improve water quality? That the red clay plumes we saw in the pictures earlier are included in old stories that go back 750 or 800 years from our elders?

      There’s an old story that tells about the interactions between the Bad River and the White River in the Kakagon rice beds. In that story they talk about the coming of the thunderbirds, the pounding of the serpents, like the thunderstorms that pounded those rivers – everywhere was blood, like everywhere was red clay. Literal manifestations that are tangible of those old stories.

      We’ve seen in 2016 a massive storm system that blew open all the roads and culverts, that turned Odanah, where my office is, turned our little village out on the res there into an island, cut us off from the world. But as an old Indian, I see the world backwards, and those blown-open canyons as an infusion of water into the lakes – exactly what we need right now, when we can’t seem to find a way to clean the algae out of Lake Erie.

      If this is ‘magical thinking’, we could use some more of it from our own ‘elders’.

      Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      During a local planning process here, a friend made the intriguing point that the cheapest way to get people into public transit is to let the streets back up with congestion – IF and only if your public transit isn’t on those same streets. IOW, this is a big advantage of rail transit as well as bikes.

      As it happens, our town has existing rail lines that are laid out very conveniently, including connections to Amtrak and to the coast. They aren’t passenger grade; the best solution, as you suggest, might be self-powered cars with suspension, so they can run on the unmodified tracks. The next step would be to get the city to take the idea seriously. The answer I got was “good idea; where’s the money?”

      Reply
  9. Steve H.

    > cat on the field

    I watched a video, and I have to say, the audio is so much better! Great play-by-play commentary!

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Trump’s Impeachment Lures Democrats Into a Cold War Mentality”

    Was reading an article today which laid out the simple possibilities of how this impeachment act could go-

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-05/donald-trumps-impeachment-explained/11652838

    It does have one fault, however, and that is the one that most articles about this ruckus share. They talk a lot about the Democrats and the Republicans and the Senate and the House. There is, however, no mention of how the other 335 million Americans will take this and what effect that it will have on them. I would say that whatever misgiving that people who voted for Trump have since 2016, these will be swept aside and the voters galvanized at this whole bogus investigation.

    Reply
  11. Olga

    On the link to what is really Medusa Project (not Meduza) and Russian diplomacy in the ME
    Fairly unimaginative Russo-phobic propaganda masquerading as some serious analysis
    Even the list of ‘advantages’ at the top is full of contradictions:
    – a centralized decision-making system;
    – the ability to build trust through personal relationships at the highest levels of government;
    – readiness for unexpected shifts in the political and strategic environment;
    – predominantly reliant on “hard” not “soft” power;
    – the ability to account for both the formal and informal personal and institutional interests of players – in the region; and
    – the ability, when necessary, to turn a blind eye to questionable or unsavory actions by partners.
    The point about hard power is contradicted by all the other points, and makes no sense (if one builds alliances and relationships and trust – that is hardly done by hard power).
    Medusa was or is a Latvian co. – not a disinterested party

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      There seem to be several “medusa” organizations online, not sure if they are one and the same.

      The Meduza org is anti-Russia and whitewashed the activities of the Nazi Banderites in Ukraine.

      Reply
      1. Neve mind the B+^^%#*cks

        “The constants of Western political systems — institutional “checks and balances,”
        the frequent rotation of leadership,
        – not so much, they kling on to power like leeches. Latest example, Lagarde from IMF to ECB independently of criminal record or competencw

        the independent media,
        – LOL

        and shifting public sentiments
        – the public sentiment has always been to get closer to Russia and stop the sanctions

        Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “US navy secretary warns of ‘fragile’ supply chain”

    I really think that this should also be seen through the other end of the supply chain. I can see it now-

    “And tell me, comrade. Just why is it that our mechanical parts are in those American warships sailing off our coastline?”

    Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Have you seen Youtube videos of runaway anchor chains? On a large ship, scary as hell, many tons running faster and faster through a broken control mechanism. Once it breaks loose, everybody backs off fast, and usually it catches fire. Seems to be a whole category.

        Would make a hell of an analogy.

        Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Frankly I have zero sympathy. I say this as an American manufacturing worker. I build, install, maintain, modify, and commission factory machines for a living.

      The bastards the own and operate the USA have spent the last 40 years telling us how we’re a globalized economy in an information age. Too bad about all those traditional jobs.

      Well, too bad about all those supply lines, and the lack of spares.

      Idiots.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe playing the wrong game for so long leads to inevitable consequences?

        Query, of course, what the RIGHT game might have been, or might be going forward.

        Infinite complexity added to near infinite interlocking vulnerabilities and points of failure, on top of incentives and desires that just drive further and faster in the direction of worst for most of us and the other species fated to live through these times too…

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          Personally, I believe that our military stance ought to be strictly defensive, within our own borders, and only a very small offensive capability (Marines).

          I also strongly believe we ought to be able to make everything we need, as a nation, right here on our own soil using our own labor and know-how.

          But then again, I’ve been feeling my inner curmudgeon lately.

          Reply
          1. Lord Koos

            I’m so sick of all the bullsh*t about national security that is constantly put out by politicians, pundits and the intelligence community. Real national security would be manufacturing what we need in our own factories and having a healthy and happier population.

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              What you are hinting at, Lord Koos, is some level of autarky, a term that makes globalists count and clutch their pearls for all they are worth. And the hated Rooskies, under the rule of the infinitely evil Kremlin (doesn’t that word just reek of the miasma of Evil?), and of course under the iron despotism of the hated Putin who wants to steal our democracy for his very own, have come so much closer to that blessed state than we red-blooded Free Americans…

              What was the game the neocons played back in the day? “Who lost China?” Maybe today’s equivalents might do well to ask “Who lost America?” Which if one is to believe the revisionist historians who acknowledge Slave-created wealth and genocide of the pre-europeans and Gilded Ages and imperial lootings on this continent and at least four others, was not so very Great a place for the mopery at any time except maybe for some of us in the 1950s and 60s and part of the 70s…

              Got to hand it to Trump though, for prodding that aching part with his massage message, “Make America Great (Again)!”

              Here’s what one writer at The Globalist has to say about Russia once again facing the horror of being cut off from Western capital sources and markets: https://www.theglobalist.com/russia-sanctions-vladimir-putin-autocracy/ Anyone for an S-400 or Pantsyr on the military side, or how about Russian health care, which is the right of all individuals under the Russian constitution? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Russia

              Note that the difficulties their health care system faces, along with other impediments to “progress” that America The World’s Corrupt Beat Cop has stomped down on countries all over the planet, are per Wiki the result of two main impacts: drop in the price of oil, a major export, and the “Western economic sanctions” imposed based on the West’s (US/NATO’s) view of the annexing of Crimea and the debated “military intervention in Ukraine,” which as I recall had something to do with the US overthrowing the elected government of Ukraine and installing a “globalist” ruler with a lot of National Socialist friends and fellow travelers. And those sanctions are also in large measure the creature of the supranational globalists who failed to establish a ruler there in Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, who would be a “sonofabitch, but our sonofabitch” and who would have fostered the complete looting of Russian extractables and other national assets. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_financial_crisis_(2014–2017) S

              Sanctions that in effect are an embargo, as with Iran with which they are tied under an act of Congress (a sort of declaration of war, that rare thing), and under traditional concepts of international relations, an act of war. https://www.fff.org/2017/09/08/sanctions-act-war/

              Not sure what Ed Snowden has to say about daily life in Russia. Got to say that there’s a lot of dark and dirty, in what one can see from youtube videos (do all their many automobiles have dash cams?). But how many Americans keep big bears for pets?

              We are all told that “autarky” is synonymous with “autocracy,” and that to even think of local self-reliance in Thomas L. Friedman.s Flat Earth is the essence of Antichrist. How can we have our consumer paradise without International Trade and Dollar Domination? My betting is that “autarky” is coming perforce to a political economy near all of us, sooner and without much planning and resilience-building than later…

              Of course that is just all my simplistic and incompletely informed view of it all.

              Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      This concern about the ‘fragile’ supply chain has been around for a while. I am having trouble finding anything older than about a decade ago. Here are a couple of oldies but goodies:

      “INQUIRY INTO COUNTERFEIT ELECTRONIC PARTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SUPPLY CHAIN” MAY21, 2012
      [https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Counterfeit-Electronic-Parts.pdf’]

      “FBI partially blames procurement rules for fake IT products” May 12, 2008
      [https://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2008/05/fbi-partially-blames-procurement-rules-for-fake-it-products/42070/]

      I remember running across Senate Armed Services and GAO reports from the early aughts but couldn’t find any. The concerns about the DoD supply chains range through issues of single source, single foreign source, and counterfeits depending on what’s popular at the moment. The “fake IT products” which concerned the FBI refers to batches of counterfeit cisco routers and switches finding their way into ‘secure’ government networks and I recall one was found in a network onboard a Navy ship-of-the-line and some were located inside the FBI networks. Cisco kept changing their hardware and IOS faster than DoD could update their networks — besides the cost! — which left a lot of agencies and services scrounging for older routers and switches that could run on the existing networks.

      I believe there is good reason for concern — but for whatever reasons there is a lot of concern expressed and little effective action. It reminds me of all the effort and expenditure that went into making DoD ‘auditable’. It made some contractor money and I suspect DoD didn’t really want to be auditable.

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Countries sell not just mechanicals parts in American warships.

      They ship their brightest.

      I was watching “Our Man In Tehran,” about a New York Times reporter who has lived in Iran for years, and married a local.

      In the documentary, we learn that in Iran, they give a national exam annually. And many of the top scorers evetually find themselves abroad, many in the USA…and staying there after graduating.

      It’s interesting that people there have the freedom to go abroad to study, and a top (maybe the top ) choice being the place many Iranians chant ‘death to’ in Iran.

      And one day, maybe they can supply US warships with their oil, not just mechanical parts???

      Reply
  13. Cat Burglar

    Oren’s article suggests that Israel’s higher circles are aware that they are losing influence in the US, and that they might as well just get us in a war with Iran now, before they lose it all.

    Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona are Iran’s real nuclear weapon. All you have to do it hit them with enough high explosives — especially on a day with the right winds — and there will be radiation all over the place. I understand why he did not mention this real vulnerability (which reminds me of the limited discussion about why there was no attack on Indian Point during 9/11, which could have rendered New York City uninhabitable), but it does bear some consideration.

    Reply
    1. human

      Or the George Washington/I-95 bridge which would have disrupted northeast corridor traffic for months with many times the financial and increased cost of goods.

      Reply
  14. anon in so cal

    Re: EVs, PHEVs, and income levels..

    Sort of analogous to the debate over rebates to households with solar panels? ‘

    https://grist.org/business-technology/have-people-of-color-been-locked-out-of-the-green-economy/

    “With a population of more than 140,000, the three ZIP codes that cover Compton – mostly black and one of the state’s poorest communities – had only $2,269 in solar tax credits. Per capita, the wealthier Malibu residents received more than 7,000 the amount of subsidies as residents of Compton.

    This is wrong.

    This disparity is made worse by California’s net metering system. Currently, everyone who pays utility bills is paying for both the costs of the electricity and the cost of the wires, poles and technology that are part of the energy infrastructure – except for solar panel users.

    They can sell their surplus power back to the grid at market rate, meaning everyone else is paying for solar panel owners’ share of the infrastructure costs. Because public housing and apartments are less likely to have solar panels, less affluent citizens are again stuck paying a disproportionate amount of the cost.”

    https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article2607797.html

    “They’re [fossil fuel corporations] now waging war on net metering by convincing some black and brown officials that solar is the exclusive province of white, wealthy households that are being subsidized by non-solar residents, particularly people of color and the low income.”

    https://grist.org/climate-energy/big-energy-has-tried-to-turn-people-of-color-against-solar-power-since-forever/

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      To my knowledge there was an initiative in California to facilitate investments in renewables and energy efficiency to poorer communities. I used it as a good example of initiative that should be brougth to Spain. Sorry I don’t have a link at hand. IMO, this is a must as you argue.

      Reply
    2. Danny

      This article reeks of breast beating and attempts at hijacking other people’s issues for one’s own political ends.

      The article claims that “Compton–[is] mostly black”..Really?
      Compton, CA is 66.8% Hispanic or Latino, 30.4% Black or African American Alone.
      https://datausa.io/profile/geo/compton-ca/

      With inaccuracies like that, how can one trust anything they claim?

      Malibu is where billionaire with decca-million dollar homes live. Compton is mostly small homes.
      You can’t put much solar on a tiny home, but you can on a large UnMenschmansion.

      Anybody can go out buy a 100 foot heavy duty black hose, throw it up on their roof, connect one end to an open water faucet and the other to the water heater flush valve, turning off the cold water intake at the top of the water heater. Instant solar hot water and in Southern California, a gas or electric water heater bill slashed by 75%~ But, how many do?

      “Because public housing and apartments are less likely to have solar panels, less affluent citizens are again stuck paying a disproportionate amount of the cost.” They get free or highly subsidized housing and yet they have to pay for electricity? Shocking. Talk to L.A. County or H.U.D. about installing solar, not the residents.

      I bet that many Compton residents waste more money on car bling with high monthly payments, or cash purchases, than it would cost to install a simple small solar array.

      Then there’s the L.A. County building code, onerous permitting requirements and other things that prevent people of lessor means from altering their environment.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Well people are probably also discouraged from alternations by the fact they are renters, the majority of L.A. residents are.

        Some do talk about solar panels for renters via LADWP leases for solar for apartments, not sure how that would all work, but it’s bleeding edge of political possibilities, far from any consensus at this point.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Anybody can go out buy a 100 foot heavy duty black hose, throw it up on their roof, connect one end to an open water faucet and the other to the water heater flush valve, turning off the cold water intake at the top of the water heater.

        Is there no code enforcement in California?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          It would depend on if the code in question mandated backflow preventers. Some places mandate the devices at the public water connection to the building. (I’ve installed many. It is a mechanically simple device.)
          For water heaters, the critical device is the T&P valve. (Temperature and Pressure.) That releases steam and water before they blow up the rig. A properly installed T&P valve should be vented to the outside of the building, for various reasons.
          My only problem with the suggested design is the connection of the cold water supply to the drain valve which is always at the very bottom of the heater. It’s main purpose is to drain the heater for repair or replacement, so, the position is obvious. Alas, sludge, gunk, and glorp all collect at the bottom of a heater. Most water heaters should be flushed every few years to remove this slurry. In the possible situation where the water heater suddenly flows backwards, which does happen “in the wild,” that deplorable debris will enter the potable water supply for the house. Yuck!
          Other concerns with the “cheap” solar heater rig concern hose failure due to very high temperatures encountered on a sunlit roof and the release of chemicals from the material making the hose into the water supply.
          My favourite solar water heating panels in the DIY field need small diameter copper pipes and empty beer cans. (For the Temperate amongst us, coke cans will do nicely.) A similar method is used to make a passive solar space heater.
          YouTube DIY solar… There are too many videos to even begin to explain.

          Reply
          1. Danny

            No one said it was legal…

            A simpler mod would be to sweat, or solder, a T shaped inlet with hose threads into the cold water feed at the top of the water heater.

            A simple one way valve, or backflow preventer at the hose outlet would be a easy addition.

            Solar hot water is the first thing people should install, as it is the easiest.

            Health and safety regs should not be ignored, especially for fire.

            JBird, I’m talking the cars themselves, not the front ends. Escalades, big pickups, Mercedes, Lexus etc. An old Toyota Corolla is the best way to save money, but not face.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              People who are renting have reason to put any spare funds into something they own: eg, their ride, which is far less money than needed for a house. And for Americans, cars are very much their identity, even more than their house, because cars are out and about.

              Reply
              1. JBird4049

                You guys ain’t hep. :-)

                Dental grills is what I was referring to.

                Although this is not something I have had much personal experience seeing. For which I am grateful. I can see the appeal of jazzing up the car. I can’t see doing it to the teeth.

                Reply
      3. JBird4049

        I bet that many Compton residents waste more money on car bling with high monthly payments, or cash purchases, than it would cost to install a simple small solar array.

        Dude, I was enjoying the comment and then this. I would call this both harsh and gratuitous. If you are a renter, you likely cannot afford to go through the reams of paperwork, fees and equipment, and some landlords just don’t want any changes. Also, car bling? Really? At least nobody has brought up grills, yet.

        As a poor pale male renter, I ain’t ever seen any fancy car bling on another renter’s car. They are probably spending it all on the rent. Like me. :-)

        Reply
        1. Lord Koos

          The mention of Compton smells racist. We have hardly any black people around here, but there are plenty of blinged-out pickup trucks.

          Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Trump team has a plan for national parks: Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts”

    And I thought that Bush was bad when he let in snowmobiles to National Parks in winter time. This will be far worse. I can see it now. You will have hikers going along tracks and at the tap of a button on a mobile screen, a drone will come buzzing in to delivery snacks, disposable bottles of water and that unique selfie as taken from the air. There will be young guys on quad bikes zooming through the parks to make bigger deliveries. With towers built throughout the Parks, you will always be able to make that post on Facebook and talk to your besties back home. At night, the bright lights of the snack trucks at the campgrounds will be like a beacon to find your way back.
    Older walkers won’t be able to pay the prices but the younger walkers will shrug their shoulders and say OK Boomers. They try to justify it by saying it is about the families but in truth it will be mostly singles as visitors. In fact, the National Parks will have all sorts of price fees added until they become a place that only the 10% will be able to afford. Price wise it might be akin to paying to go to Disneyland. Remember people – like the article says: “We want to let Americans make their own decision in the marketplace”. Maybe if you are willing to pay a high enough price, you will be allowed to shoot a bison just like your GG Grandfather did. Wouldn’t that be cool? Hell, just have parks sponsored so instead of Yosemite Park you will have Facebook National Park or Goldman Sachs National Park.
    You know what? I would pay good money to see a slasher film based on the idea of the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt wrecking his bloody vengeance in the National Parks and throttling entitled campers with their own recharge cords and burning out concession vans. And I bet that I am not the only one.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      As an Ok Boomer, pretty much all of my interaction with young adults comes in the wilderness, where all are equal under the canopy of the forest for the trees. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich as Croesus or loaded down with student loans, everybody has to walk their walk.

      There’s been a great reawakening as far as discovering perhaps the one avenue in our country where manna is simply superfluous and wont buy you a thing.

      There’s no money in it, so the usual suspects in the media are clueless to the revolution going on in the back of beyond.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      The great thing about food trucks, as opposed to the visitor center based food services is that the former can get out to more isolated places in the parks, where the bears will always be allowed to the head of the line and human visitors will be on the menu.

      Reply
    3. Carolinian

      The parks are being starved of funds and that’s on Congress (over many years) and not Trump. Enthusiasts for the “Fee Demo” program that put the foot in the door for the user fee mania included not just Gingrich and his Republicans but also the Clinton administration.

      Still, putting Trump’s face on this neglect may be enough to wake up the public (or get candidate Trump to withdraw the idea). One should point out that there are extremists on the conservation side that want to ban not only concessionaires but the park roads themselves. I’d say, however, that the American public need to feel the ownership and responsibility for this great heritage and be able to visit. This may be the only reason these public lands haven’t been privatized already.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Don’t hold your breath on the Amazon delivery to campgrounds idea ever happening. These are goofy suggestions.

        Reply
  16. Craig H.

    > The Ham-Handed, Money-Driven Mangling of Sports Illustrated and Deadspin

    Never even noticed SI was circling the drain. Story is big and depressing. They used to have the best stories and it’s been a long time since I saw a sports story anyplace else but espn. Whose stories are usually not good but it is the only place that has them all.

    It’s a pity google deliberately broke their news pages. :(

    If anybody has written why the heck google did that I haven’t seen it. I realize this is a different subject except maybe it isn’t.

    Reply
  17. jo6pac

    Hello
    I’m getting a pop up in the middle of my screen from vanguard when I come to the site and some times when I change articles.
    Just saying

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry about that. Will tell our ad service. We have not gotten any other complaints…..and generally when only one user has an issue, it’s a user issue, but I will report it.

      Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Young Gustaf Nordenskiöld was driven by scientific curiosity, and those who watched him at work professed to the care he took in the field. When he arrived at Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado in 1891, he not only performed some groundbreaking work in studying the cliff dwellings that later would become the hallmark of Mesa Verde National Park, but he also took hundreds of artifacts back home to Europe with him, where they reside at the National Museum of Finland.

    Nordenskiöld was on a worldwide trip he had hoped would cure his tuberculosis when he reached Denver early that year. Upon seeing a collection of items taken from the Mesa Verde region, he headed to Durango, where he found room and board with a local ranching family, the Wetherills.

    Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charles Mason, had stumbled upon the cliff dwellings in December 1888. Three years later they and others guided Nordenskiöld to Mesa Verde and worked alongside him as he studied the architecture, artifacts, and mummified remains. The 23-year-old Swede, amazed at what he found, rather meticulously documented the site, remains, and artifacts with sketches, photographs, excavations, and copious notes.

    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2019/10/finland-agrees-return-remains-some-items-taken-mesa-verde-19th-century

    A fine roadtrip would be going to Chaco Canyon first, and you can walk all over the great houses there, which are pretty much in the open, and then go to Mesa Verde NP, where most everything was carefully hidden away in the cliff dwellings as a defensive posture, which you can only visit in a guided tour with a NPS ranger.

    Reply
  19. Summer

    RE: Who owns Silicon Valley

    “As a business owner or a company, we can’t afford to have all of our employees coming in two hours away,” Emami said. “It just won’t last.”

    And

    “Lately, the costs are squeezing even the mega-owners. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (whose company’s headquarters is just north of Santa Clara County in Menlo Park) said in a recent employee meeting, streamed online, that the social media giant plans to expand mostly outside of the valley from now on because the local infrastructure — housing and transportation — can’t support its growth here.”

    The smaller businesses will be left in this techno-feudal hell, while the Zucks and his spread their techno-feudalism to the rest of the country….if everybody stays asleep…

    Reply
  20. Summer

    RE: “Burn CIA and FBI to the ground? Start over?”

    The establishment is clinging to these agencies more than ever because they are exposed and scared. They can deal with apathy, but won’t survive the lack of belief in their worldview.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      +1
      As the campaign against Sanders demonstrates, they will do anything to block the deployment of different worldviews. I surmise that the eventual screwing of Sanders by the DNC will tip a lot of, as yet quiescent ordinary people over into the ‘Revolutionary’ camp.

      Reply
      1. MillenialSocialist

        I’m one of the millions who can be pushed towards it with even a stiff breeze at this point. Just waiting to see how brazen they’ll be

        Reply
      2. jrs

        well maybe they should register to vote and as Dems (or at least as Dems in closed primary states though there is an argument even otherwise).

        Because I’m tired of waiting for a political revolution by people who are too lazy to be arsed to even register and vote in the primaries (independents in closed primary states). And yes they could change it back after the election of course. “Burn down the capitalist system, eat the rich, bring out the guillotines!”, he shouted, contacing Uber-eats from his smartphone to avoid getting off the couch”. That level of lazy.

        If the popular vote is ignored, if the machine is hacked (and yes they are dubious) yes, but if independents are too lazy to register … um we have here: world’s laziest would be revolution.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          guess what, NY won’t let you do that, they’ll discount your vote. You have to have been registered with the same party *months* ahead of time. You can register as an independent and basically be denied everything except the general election.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Too bad the Dems are so corrupt and anti-democratic that no one wants to be identified with them – or the Repubs, for that matter.

          jrs, this kind of appeal is pointless: you have to address the reasons people don’t do what you advocate. In this case, it’s the “ick!” factor. If the party wants more registrations – and there’s no reason to think that – they need to give people a reason to sign up. Or you do, in this case.

          Reply
  21. scarn

    The Cedric Johnson article on nonsite.org is so good. This is not like most of the over-simplified criticism of race-conscious left politics that get tossed about. There are no strawmen being torn down, no bombastic accusations. This is actual knowledge of the subject, with real intention of finding truth. Made my day.

    Reply
  22. Lee

    Accordingly, in the 1930s, the union [ILWU] blocked the shipment of supplies to the rising fascist nations in Europe and Asia, and supported the fledgling Republic of Spain in its uneven struggle against the Axis powers. In 1938, they refused to load scrap iron destined for Japan and presciently claimed the iron would return as bombs against the United States.”
    https://spartacus-educational.com/NDharry_bridges.htm

    Reply
  23. Larster

    Re Cockburn story on 7+ whistleblowers, I think that the R’s are totally bonkers for not supporting the impeachment inquiry. Whether or not all of these wb’s materialize, others certainly will IMO. Why not cut the cancer out when it is a small tumor rather than large and inoperable. Take a look at the clip of Trump at the KY rally last night. When you are counting on the support of Rand Paul and giving a profane half hearted endorsement to the Gov of KY, you are signaling something. That something is not strength. Remember, Trump knows what he has done.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Diary entry from I Will Bear Witness 1933-41 by Victor Klemperer, about 3 years into the 3rd Reich:

      March 23, 1936

      “He flies from place to place and gives triumphal speeches. The whole thing is called an “election campaign”.”

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Trump might ‘cut them off at the pass’ and release the telephone conversation to the public. Then sit back and dare the Democrat Party, and phrase it in that manner, to do their worst. A techno version of Roosevelt’s “…they hate me and I welcome their hatred.”

      Reply
    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      And what, pray tell, has he “done”?

      Did he use Republican Party funds to fabricate evidence of wrongdoing so the FBI and CIA could then spy on and undermine his main political rival?

      Did his Secretary of State run a side charity, receiving tens of millions in “donations” right before State approved sensitive arms and resources sales to the “donor” country?

      Did he destroy evidence under subpoena? Subvert his party’s primary candidate selection process?

      He asked a minor head of state in a quid pro quo to investigate…a prior totally corrupt quid pro quo by his predecessor. OMG get out the long knives, set up the gallows, we got a lynching to do! With sad, sad hearts because we must protect our *national integrity and security*. (FRRRRRRRRRT! What was that? Oh just a noise caused by the release of waste gas from my lower intestine…)

      Reply
  24. a different chris

    >It’s time to reverse the Beeching Axe

    So I live on a 3 mile road. The termination points are both on roads that are two lanes but are large enough to have a state route number, and they were once a long time ago major thoroughfares are still are minor ones.

    The thing is, there is this spot pretty close to the middle where the hillside is really steep and they had to hack into it whenever (100 years ago?) they built this road. It fell in once in the first 20 years or so that we lived there just because it was stupid, and it has now commenced falling in every couple years with all the (cough, Global Warming, cough) rain.

    But they keep fixing it. It would be really no problem for anybody on this street if it got bisected, we are far enough away from everything that we could take either of those state roads. But there is apparently no way in America to have a portion of a road, let alone a whole one condemned unless a new one is going to be built to replace it. And literally replace it, because not much farther down the one, well, main road is a little road that does nothing but parallel a big 4 lane for 1/8 mile. There are no houses there. No telephone poles. No nothing, just woods. But it exists and gets re-paved and plowed in the winter and no reason can be imagined why. I’m not sure I have ever seen a car on it.

    The sickness is deep.

    Reply
  25. Cian

    That Atlantic article on Syria is Israeli propaganda (the writer is an ex Israeli diplomat). As analysis its garbage – though I do wonder if the Israeli government believes this crap. Probably not a good sign if they do.

    Reply
  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sun Zi and the Art of War.

    “Xi Jinping met Hong Kong’s chief executive and ‘demanded unswerving efforts’ to quash violent protests in the territory, in the first official talks between the two leaders since the unrest began in June.”

    Per Master Sun:

    To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill

    I think both sides are ‘fighting’ now.

    Neither side is applying the acme solution of the Art of War?

    Reply
  27. Oregoncharles

    “The Coming Middle East Conflagration” –
    Israeli propaganda, of course; that’s his job. It is interesting to see the world as they see it – and extremely revealing that, in this propaganda piece, the war starts with an Israeli attack – a long-standing provocation that, evidently, they see as business-as-usual. Is Oren actually unable to see that, or is the point to normalize it?

    But by his account, long-standing Israeli policy puts their population and their whole society in serious danger, along with all their neighbors. That is monstrous.

    Reply
  28. smoker

    Re: Who Owns Silicon Valley Mercury-News. Scroll past the stupid graphic, this is real reporting.

    Sorry, but reporting by the local Mercury News, and NBC Bay Area way, way too late, and tainted with numerous omissions of the devastating effects of that ownership too numerous to mention in this comment. For example, in Part 2 of 3 of the investigation, the Mercury’s typical pandering to Google as a benevolent housing supporter is vomitous, not even a mention of flooding the area with very young male H1b workers and the verified hiring: Racism, Misogyny, Classism and Ageism against those who were already citizens which, no doubt has significantly increased the despair and homelessness.

    Going through County Property Assessor records should have, and could have been done years ago, and then compared on an annual basis, when the Homeless crisis began, including the Real Estate that Facebook dominates over (with it’s owned Police Force) in an historically black residential neighborhood ([East] Menlo Park, one of very, very, very few places black people could buy a home historically in Silicon Valley). So lame that Facebook was only given a vomitously pandering one paragraph with the excuse that it’s not in Santa Clara County, even though it’s just minutes across the Santa Clara County border and has been considered to be located in Silicon Valley for quite some time now.

    Very sad that News organizations get kudos for what they should have been doing in the first place investigating public records and census reports on their own. Instead the Mercury News, for example, appears to have been basing their news for decades, on what they were told by the by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and The Silicon Valley Organization (still legally named The Silicon Valley Chamber of Congress, which changed its name almost 3 years ago, after Trump; so as not to appear so hardcore conservative and profit ‘uber’ all oriented in a Valley which loves to pretend it’s progressive when it’s anything but that).

    Lastly, it’s been interesting for a while now, to look at the bios of way too many of those local journalists and investigators and realize that now (unlike previously, to my recollect) many (most?) of them did not have the experience of living and working in Silicon Valley for decades, when it was still affordable to so many; they come from places like Florida and Wisconsin, miles and miles away, with totally different backdrops, even Southern California is a different backdrop than Silicon Valley. The far older, free markets, conservative leaning, predominantly white Blue™ Editors and remaining columnists are usually another story altogether.

    Reply
  29. Plenue

    >China’s slam dunk of the NBA is a game changer The Interpreter

    In the video game world Blizzard’s president delivered an on-stage apology a few days ago at BlizzCon (yes, Blizzard is a big enough company that it can have a convention just for itself and its products) about how they were too hasty in their actions and undermined their ‘values’.

    …and then they’ve failed to actually do anything of substance like rescind the ban against the player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protests. It’s going over about as well as you’d expect.

    Reply
  30. Matthew G. Saroff

    While it is possible for John Solomon could break a legitimate story, I’d wait for a second source.

    This guy is such a political actor that his passing articles by Giuliani pre-publication was reported on by Pro Publica.

    Reply
  31. The Rev Kev

    “he whomsoever that canst draw the motorola from this carriageway shall be kinge of all post brexit englandde”

    Alexander the Great strides onto the scene, keen to take up the challenge, and draws his might sword. Frowning, he realizes that this challenge is no Gordonian knot. Inspiration follows. Raising his sword above, he thrusts it into the ground next to the Motorola. He then levers the Motorola out where he triumphantly raises it to the sky to claim his prize. He then surveys his prize kingdom surrounding him when he catches sight of a newsstand. Frowning, he reads the headlines and examines the people involved and draws back. Surreptitiously looking around, he quickly jams the Motorola back into its hole and stamps it back with his boot. He then pretends he is out for a walk and quickly leaves the scene for the safety of the plains of Persia.

    Reply

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