Links 12/11/19

Military working dog fears immigrants are taking his job Duffle Blog (Kevin W)

Cat Won’t Destroy Christmas Tree Because Of Tangerine ‘Force Field’ The Dodo (David L)

Golden retriever joins Masonic Children’s Hospital staff Kare11 (Chuck L)

Scientists call for a complete ban on GLITTER because the particles are polluting oceans Daily Mail (David L). Drag queens all over the world will mourn.

Dinosaurs had feathers ruffled by parasites, study finds Guardian (Kevin W)

in a time of bird decline, counting and feeding them, with emma greig of feederwatch A Way to Garden (David L)

Sydney’s air 11 times worse than ‘hazardous’ levels as Australia’s bushfires rage Guardian

Los Angeles wants to build a hydrogen-fueled power plant. It’s never been done before Los Angeles Times

Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992 The Conversation (Kevin W)

Is This the End of Recycling? Pocket (David L)

The dark side of plant-based food—it’s more about money than you may think The Conversation (Robert M)

China?

‘Eleventh hour’ US-China trade deal could happen before tariffs kick in Sunday, analysts say CNBC

Indian poor grow hungrier under Modi as economy slows Financial Times

Brexit

Decision time Chris Grey. Fine if sobering big-picture take.

Boris Johnson’s Biggest Threat Isn’t Jeremy Corbyn. It’s Ali Milani. Foreign Policy (UserFriendly).

Fake News and the “Punch” that never happened Off Guardian (JTM)

The Brexit stockpilers: ‘I do still have enough for three months’ Guardian (resilc)

Brazil’s beef export hit record, prospects bright on China demand Reuters. Troy P: “This is why they are burning down the Amazon rainforest.”

How the Global North’s Left Media Helped Pave the Way for Bolivia’s Right-Wing Coup FAIR

New Cold War

Pompeo and Lavrov clash over Russian election interference in news conference at State Department Washington Post (Kevin W)

How Russian Agents Hunt Down Kremlin Opponents Der Spiegel. Bill B:

From a logistical standpoint, outsourcing to thugs like Krasikov is much cheaper than deploying a drone and is far less likely to result in bystander casualties. As opposed to what happens when the United States targets Pashtun wedding parties.

THE SKRIPALS UNDER US CONTROL, AT A USAF NUCLEAR BOMBER BASE IN FAIRFORD, GLOUCESTERSHIRE John Helmer (Chuck L)

Syraqistan

U.S. lacked a clear war strategy in Afghanistan, officials acknowledged in confidential documents Washington Post. Resilc: “The only conceivable reason WaPo publishes something anti war is that they are trying to clear the table before their next blood feast.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Our Lying Military, Our Lying Government American Conservative (resilc)

Trump Transition

Horowitz Report Reveals the Steele Dossier Was Always a Joke Rolling Stone (UserFriendly). OMG. Taibbi kills it:

If the report released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz constitutes a “clearing” of the FBI, never clear me of anything. Holy God, what a clown show the Trump-Russia investigation was.

The Inspector General’s ‘Witch Hunt’ Report: A Quick and Dirty Analysis LawFare. Awfully shrill….

Pelosi reaches deal with progressives to avert showdown over drug price bill The Hill

Impeachment

Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors Judiciary Committee. Lambert linked to this yesterday but in case you missed it….

If Ukraine Is Impeachable, What’s Afghanistan? Atlantic (resilc)

2020

Robert Reich: A Billionaire-Backed Moderate Will Hand Trump the 2020 Election TruthDig

Don’t Think Sanders Can Win? You Don’t Understand His Campaign New York Times (Kevin C)

What Nevada could mean for Bernie Sanders Washington Post (UserFriendly)

Elizabeth Warren helped company to avoid clearing up toxic waste, document reveals Independent (resilc)

What Pete Buttigieg Really Did at McKinsey The Atlantic

Hillary Clinton documentary to premiere at Sundance The Hill

States Looking at Ways to Promote FAFSA Completion National Conference of State Legislatures. UserFriendly: “http://www.ncsl.org/blog/2019/12/10/states-looking-at-ways-to-promote-fafsa-completion.aspx

Exxon Mobil Prevails In Climate Change Trial NPR (David L)

Chevron to take $10bn write down on shale gas glut Financial Times

Cuomo Says Amazon’s Manhattan Announcement is “Crumbs From the Table Compared to a feast” LIC Post Kevin W: “A feast for who exactly?”

New York City Paid McKinsey Millions to Stem Jail Violence. Instead, Violence Soared. ProPublica (Dan K). Grifters. Now I am going to have to use the line I have been using for my time at Goldman for McKinsey too: “I worked there before it became a criminal enterprise.”

FAA engineers objected to Boeing’s removal of some 787 lightning protection measures Seattle Times

Traders Buy Hedges ‘Like World Is About to End’ Bloomberg

Class Warfare

The Economy of Evil Historicly (JTM). Today’s must read.

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy Boing Boing

Report: Nearly half of American workers have low-wage jobs KNOE (furzy)

If Wealth Is Justified, so Is a Wealth Tax Katharina Pistor Project Syndicate (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Ian P):

Octopus embryo. This microscope image of a California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) embryo was one of the top 20 images in Nikon’s Small World photomicrography contest. It was entered by biologists Martyna Lukoseviciute of the University of Oxford, UK, and Carrie Albertin at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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151 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >WaPo Afghanistan papers

    Is there a connection between the gov’t awarding a $10 billion dollar cloud-computing contract to Microsoft over Amazon and WaPo’s publishing of the “Afghanistan papers?”

    Although WaPo had been working on the story for a long time, it makes one wonder if they had won the bid or if Clinton was the President whether this story would have seen the light of day.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s an excellent point that. Would Dr. Evil use a national newspaper to launch an attack on the Trump regime with these papers out of revenge for not getting a second huge contract? Well, duh! I could well and truly believe Bezos doing exactly that for the reason that you suggested.
      Reading that article, I was reminded how during the early days of ‘Nam how the government put together a task force headed by a bright up and coming admiral what to do about US involvement. After taking a quick look at the situation, he went back to the government and told them to say what they want the situation to look like in the end and he would come up with the advice on how to get there. They literally had no answer for him so they pushed him out of the Navy instead.
      If you want to read how the ground war looked like to a grunt, I have just read an article by a familiar name – that of Maj. Danny Sjursen – and it is as bad as you would expect. And it was all for nothing-

      https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2019/12/10/i-knew-the-war-in-afghanistan-was-a-lie/

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I think of the Afghanistan war as a mine in reverse where you pile riches into an endless whole, and remember the claim that it costs something around $400 a gallon to get gas delivered to the back of the back of beyond Helmand Province or something like that?

        I just paid $3.59 a gallon in the priciest state for go-juice, leaving around $396 on the table for a sutler or victualer.

        Like all mining enterprises, eventually the claim plays out, and you exit staged left.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Wuk I’m not sure you have all the flows in your value chain. Starts with the chump taxpayer, pick a few trillion from his/her pocket. $ flow to MIC contractor, who earns massive grift opening KFCs on military bases, flying bottled water in from Seattle, and manufacturing multi-million $ robots (drones) that are destroyed the first time they’re used.

          The mine claim is nowhere near being played out since you can simply rotate in another country to host the festivities.

          Reply
      2. Craig H.

        This Sjursen character reads odd.

        Some of it is very good but he went to West Point and his career topped at Major. And he describes himself as a grunt. This seems like it is in the category of making up your own definitions for words like Humpty Dumpty to me.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          I’ve been following Major Danny Sjursen for quite a while now. No, there is nothing odd about him. He’s just a soldier who began to see the cognitive dissonance between the training that was instilled within him and what he and all soldiers are told they must believe to get ahead and the reality of what he was seeing on the ground. At some point while he was in Iraq leading troops, thinking overcame believing and his career as an Army officer was over in all but name. Hence he topped out as Major. His criticisms of what the military was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was still in the Army didn’t endear him to his superiors either.

          He is also a very astute historian – his history of the US, while not complete, is very good.

          Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its a professional army, and I think you have to look at it through the prism of an long term infantry officer (being in the field anyway; i’m not sure what he is) versus say an artillery officer or driver for an admiral in a landlocked country. The officer who goes into the country is probably closer to the average enlisted soldier in the field than many of our “drone warriors” who can drive to Disney when their thumbs get tired.

          Shinseki made general, and his claim to fame was pushing through berets for all of our “warriors.” This drove my dad (a former artillery officer) nuts when it happened. He really bought the idea the berets were outward symbols of being a bad ass.

          Military history is more or less a history of conformist twits being promoted for brown nosing. Its not a hitch and you are out. The admiralty is usually better than generals because navy officers do get a chance to sink their own ship before they get promoted.

          Then he is correct about dealing with careerists looking to cash out in a contracting job and the ones who are there for the usual West Point pamphlet reasons.

          Reply
        3. VietnamVet

          I am almost half way through Ken Burns “The Vietnam War”. I can take an episode about every six months. I know it was pointless. But I still get emotional about the complete waste. Afghanistan, Iraq and Syrian Wars are worse but they continue to this day.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Ken Burns “The Vietnam War” is nowhere as good as his “Civil War” series and it was more through omissions rather than anything else. A shame that. Yes, Vietnam was a waste but as they said at the time – “It wasn’t much of a war, but it was the only one that we had.”

            Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I don’t see how this report of 18 years of lies about Afghanistan hurts Trump, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

      He campaigned on removing troops from Afghanistan, among other middle east countries, and that’s what brought the wrath of the “intelligence” and impeachment gods down on his head in the first place.

      I’d say it has more to do with the recent exposures of decades of press / political protection of nefarious creatures hiding in plain sight like weinstein and epstein. wapo has to pretend to be a “news” organization after all, and if they can spin the truth to implicate Trump, then they can at least wring some “good” out of it.

      I sure don’t hear much mention of the names “petraeus” or “mcraven,” two pieces of sh*t whose personal stock soared based on their involvement, and should be front and center in any exposure of this twisted Afghanistan “news.” Not to mention “bush” and “obama.”

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        PS. Forgot you-go-to-war-with-the-army-you-have-not-the-one-you-wish-you-had rumsfeld.

        Also meant “mcchrystal,” although who can keep all those “mc…” POSs straight?

        Reply
    3. integer

      I doubt it has anything to do with the Pentagon contract. Bezos suspects that Trump played a role in Amazon not having been awarded the contract, but the Afghanistan papers aren’t damaging to Trump, who has repeatedly called for troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Perhaps the CIA was worried about their favorite publication being increasingly perceived as fake news, and thus losing its potency as a propaganda dissemination platform.

      Trump wanted a big cut in troops in Afghanistan. New U.S. military plans fall short. WaPo

      Reply
      1. Shonde

        Or perhaps the CIA actually wants the troops out of Afghanistan so there will be more battle hardened troops for the new adventure being plotted for Iran. Can’t have too many fronts you know.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Oh crap, one slip of the typing finger and my potential political career is toast. I can only imagine the catcalls calling for my pre-ouster.

          Reply
    1. kiwi

      The B&W do seem more acrobatically inclined in my experience. I’ve usually had torties most of my life, but my new(ish) B&W was crawling on top of the curtain rods in a matter of a few days (of her own volition, she wasn’t being chased) after I brought her home. When we go outside, she is up a tree in minutes.

      And my outside semi-wild cat (mostly white with a few black spots) loved to explore all the neighborhood rooftops and climb over tall fences.

      Other cats climb around too, but they seem to prefer easier routes, or less ‘extreme’ climbing.

      Reply
  2. Synoia

    Los Angeles wants to build a hydrogen-fueled power plant. It’s never been done before Los Angeles Times

    How is the hydrogen produced?
    Electrolysis based on Solar Power??
    If so, where does the water come from?

    I read the article. It seemed to avoid describing the complete cycle to produce the Hydrogen.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      They plan to produce hydrogen vie electrolysis based on renewable energy, but it doesn’t appear to say where the water will come from.
      renewable hydrogen — which is generated by using renewable energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in a process called electrolysis
      “For a hydrogen economy to develop, massive amounts of the gas will need to be produced at low cost and with minimal emissions,” Bloomberg wrote. “The rapidly declining costs of renewable energy and electrolyzers now make this possible.”
      DWP would also need to dedicate large amounts of clean energy to the electrolysis process, which won’t be cheap.
      They touted green hydrogen as a key component of plans for a “renewable energy hub” in Utah, with solar farms, wind turbines and potentially geothermal power plants

      Reply
      1. inode_buddhe

        We had such a system at my old job, made by Teledyne Continental. Justified by the fact the we use industrial amounts of H2 in our process, but it consumes a large amount of energy. Roughly 750 amps at 480 volts 3-phase. The mix potassium hydroxide (KOH) with the water before it goes into the eletrolysis cells. All that just to fill up a measly 1-inch pipe with H2 at 50PSI. There are far, far cheaper ways to do it, usually extracting the H2 from methane/nat gas. At work it depends on the power rates they manage to get at auction, but if the rates go too high we have a bulk liquid tank from Praxair (Linde) who can do it far, far cheaper than we can.

        Reply
    2. Danny

      Why not build a 100% hydrogen fueled power plant in downtown Los Angeles? Think of the transmission losses from Utah that would be avoided AND the byproduct of burning the hydrogen, water, which is in short supply in L.A.

      How to get the hydrogen? “They’ll think of something later”. Just sign the contracts now, make sure to include underrepresented minority majorities in the bidding process with favorable points, like Los Angeles does its public works now, to assure equity.

      Reply
  3. Quentin

    Stephanie Kelton’s tweet ‘He who shall not be named nabs second place’ and her commentators identify the newest conspiracy theory rocking the USA about a so-called Democratic candidate supposedly named Bernie Sanders. After Russiagate and Ukrainegate the surveillance-state Democrats will deal with Sandersgate to uncover the dark forces behind the deceit which by circular reason will directly lead to a repeat of Russiagate, etc. chaired by the Lady Living a Life of Eternal Hurt.

    Reply
    1. Baby Gerald

      Sorry, but if you’re going to casually apply the lazy ‘conspiracy theory’ tag to ideas you simply disagree with, which in this case seems to be the concept that the mainstream media is actively ignoring Sanders, expect some feedback. The blackout is real and has been recognized– for more than a month already. If this hasn’t been admitted by the sources from which you receive your news and information, consider why that might be. Here are four sources that I trust– feel free to hit me back with yours.

      This Is How The Media Treats Bernie Sanders [Tim Black/TBTV] 11/7
      Mainstream Media is Actively Trying to Erase Bernie Sanders from the 2020 Race [The Humanist Report] 11/8
      Nina Turner: The Bernie media blackout is real [The Hill] 12/5
      PBS Overview Of Dem Primary Completely Snubs Bernie, Yang & Tulsi [Secular Talk] 12/6

      #Bernie2020 #BernieBeatsTrump

      Reply
  4. Clive

    Re: “Decision time [Chris Grey]”

    Well, I’ll say this for them, right to the bitter end, Remain key opinion leaders such as Grey continue to demonstrate their inability to grapple with the Brexit problem in a way which has much, if any, hope of convincing Leave’ers.

    It is not that leaving the EU will somehow instigate a proliferation of new — let alone better — trade trade-offs. While that might be nice, it’s unlikely. And it wasn’t what it was about at all. For the trade dimension of Brexit (which is only one of a dozen or more), the demand from Leave’ers was to return — where they argue it should never have left at all — the inevitable compromises and cost/benefit calculations from the technocratic, unaccountable eyrie they had been hidden away in to the domestic U.K. political realm.

    Given the complexities, it’s little wonder that, at least for a time, voters were more than happy, relieved, even, to allow the whole mess to be bundled up and stuffed into the box at the back of the ideological wardrobe. But no more.

    If, for example, there has to be a throwing under the bus of U.K. fisheries for U.K. autoworkers, then this is a potentially valid selling out of one group of labour in favour of another. Or, if there has to be a profound change in the U.K. constitutional settlement by elevating the CJEU to have superiority over the U.K. Supreme Court to allow financial services full and unrestricted access to the EU Single Market, then that is another possibility. (note that these are illustrative examples only, the actual details of any U.K./EU trade deal might well be different, this is simply to offer some illustrations of potential A vs. B “you can’t have it both ways” choices that will arise and need to be worked through).

    But whatever shafting one group of workers to benefit another, whatever erosion of national decision-making autonomies, whatever robbing Peter’s to pay Paul’s end up being done, these will be taken by directly elected politicians who will face either voter plaudits or voter wrath depending on who is looking at it from what angle.

    It is virtually inevitable that that messy, disgruntling and time-consuming exercise will result in an overall trade facilitation outcome that is, compared to the nice, neat EU technocrat decision-making process, sub-optimal.

    No doubt, to people like Grey, this is utterly incomprehensible. His closing remarks, where he seems to be channelling Oscar the Grouch (to paraphrase, “humph, well, if that’s what people want to vote for, they can do, and I hope they’re thoroughly miserable if they get it, serves them right for voting the wrong way”) echo a lot of recent Remain sentiment. Remain has been trotting out variants of this (and remember, this is just trade, there’s loads more issues in play besides that) for three-and-a-half years now. It’s gone way past the point where anyone is going to convince anyone to change their views. It really is high time to settle this, once and for all.

    Reply
      1. Clive

        [chortles]

        I don’t normally sit through video but I’m glad I did that one.

        Little wonder the EU has now said “No More Asterisks!”

        To which I’d add that, probably only the UK could ever really seriously consider Brexit’ing (or any country+the word “exit” appended to their name). Any bigger, and we’d be up to our old tricks, trying to throw our weight around and boss everyone else about. Any smaller, we’d have to huddle round with the rest of the periphery for security and warmth, probably being able to convince ourselves it was really (yes, honestly, of course it is, yes, really) a free choice, not out of necessity.

        Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Sovereignty, IOW. Yves commented on this quite a while ago: Sovereignty is worth something. Adding in: regularly, it’s worth lives. If that’s your primary concern, some trade disruption and economic losses may look like a small price to pay. Britain’s gotten through much worse.

      I sympathize: there are reasons the Ecotopian dream of independence for the Pacific Northwest persists. We don’t have the option of leaving peaceably, so it isn’t a serious consideration. And England may pay the price of losing the UK – both Scotland and NI are rather likely to do some Exiting of their own.

      Interesting times.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Sovereignty? The UK exchanges the ‘faceless Eurocrats’ for a bunch of old Etonians and their sponsors from the 0.1%, while the technical sovereign, Queen Bet, remains as unelected representative of an institution foisted on the country by a foreign invasion in 1066? A funny sort of soverignty to be reclaiming.

        Reply
        1. makedoanmend

          The theme of the EU being a “faceless” bureaucracy that is inimicable to the common people of Europe has been a useful stick with which to beat those who support the union. Of course people have railed against faceless bureaucracies of their home countries for decades and longer. Yet, as has happened across Europe in the name of market efficiency, the interface between people and their governments in the form of services and actually being able to have contact with minor government officials has been eliminated in many countries. Technology has supplanted human contact in the name of efficiency and “balancing the budget” (i.e. fire civil servants and lower taxes for the rich). Removing contact between citizens and government at the local level accomplishes a much more subtle directive: it tells ordinary working people that they do not have the right to government contact and influence, full stop. Instead we are now confronted with “one stop shops” for the most basic services. And we know if you don’t have money, you don’t shop. Instead, you are shamed, purposefully.

          David’s post below addresses the bigger, macro picture. There is a global elite whose interests often sharply diverge from those of local workers. The elite workers benefit directly and indirectly from international capital flows. This system has been in place once colonialism became firmly established centuries ago. It is nothing new. It has, however, been given new modern PR, globetrotting gloss.

          As for the long term, I’ll use Ireland, my home country, as an example. To get a simple pot hole fixed, you now have to approach a TD* from central governement to get anything done. Local government influence was diminished under successive Fianna Fail/PD administrations in the early 00’s. When the current Fine Gael government, liberaltarian to the bone, came into office they effectively did away with all local government powers. Instead we now have one stop shops that offer “services” but, to get anything done, you need to contact a local TD. Local government has been replaced by the governing party – a bit like the Bolsevik system.

          On the other hand, most Irish people know that the EU contributed mightly to infrastructure in Ireland, especially during the early 00’s. We know this because the infrastructure was built (we can see it), such as road and harbours; and signage clearly states the interaction between the Irish government and the EU. Tangible material benefits. Ireland is now a net contributer to the EU budget and sends capital to other and often newer member states.

          Which brings us back to the picklely spot. The EU, one the hand, seems to be a faceless entity to some. That’s fair enough, especially if your local monied interests have little or no time for the EU, and equally if your media reflects their views. On the other hand, 1) the EU has been instrumental in maintaining a greater, peaceful equilibrium than any time since the creation of their colonial enterprises in which Euopean states waged several savage European wars in order to establish a hegemony. 2) The EU, as a unified trading block, offers both internal economic advantages and external advantages. As President Trump rightly pursues advantages for the United States, the EU as a bloc will have some ability to counter the economic might of the United States when dealing with trade issues.** These are advantages which even Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, would not accrue alone.

          *bit like a senator in the United States
          ** I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK, at least in the short term and superficially, is offered as sweet trading deal by the US. As has been often highlighted, the US doesn’t offer deals, it gives you the deal. However, I wonder if a short term deal that seems not unfavourable to the UK might be an incentive for other, single European countries to break from the EU and pursue some short term sweetness as well.

          just surmise

          Reply
    2. David

      There’s a constant theme in African politics (bear with me) that involves jealousies and struggles between a neocolonial ruling class and populist politicians. The former are often educated abroad, speak at least one European language fluently, spend a lot of time out of the country, and have completely absorbed international “norms” as promulgated by the IMF, the OECD and so forth. Some are politicians, but there are also journalists, businesspeople, international civil servants, bankers, artists and intellectuals, assured of a respectful reception in the West, and largely ignorant of, and quite divorced from, their own populations.They function additionally as enforcers of international norms and policies (especially economic) in their own countries. In politics this can have serious consequences. In the Côte d’Ivoire, there was an actual civil war, essentially between the partisans of Outtara (former Deputy Director IMF)and Gbagbo (former schoolteacher) when the two contested the Presidency. Outtara was finally installed by western troops. And Zuma came to power in South Africa partly because he was seen as a man of the people, after Mbeki who was a suave diplomat who had spent most of his life abroad.
      You can see where this is going, perhaps. Not just in Britain, but in my observation in other European countries as well, there’s a real sense of a hermetically sealed ruling class which is insulated by money and privilege from everyday life, and whose education, professional life, social contacts and even holidays have much more in common with their equivalents in other countries than they do with the person who empties the waste bins in the First Class compartment of Eurostar from which they have just emerged. It’s one thing to have an out of touch national ruling class: it’s another when that ruling class is increasingly different in culture and behaviour from the rest of the society, because it both takes from, and contributes to, a superficial, vaguely “multi-cultural”, Globisch speaking international ruling class which thinks and acts pretty much alike. Of course, this isn’t directly or entirely the responsibility of the EU: other organisations, like the IMF and international NGO, snot to mention multinational corporations, are perhaps even more responsible. But the EU is next door, and when people chafe against the sense of not controlling their own destiny, the EU is in the firing line. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no sign that the British ruling class understand this, hence, in part, the current situation.

      Reply
      1. Jonathan

        i am african and this is a dead on, insightful, accurate yet esoteric metaphor.

        how did you come to such astute observations if you dont mimd me asking?

        im very impressed

        Reply
  5. A good tarring & feathering for the food execs

    Food and money: 150 years ago if you would show up at the market with watered down milk, substitutes in the foodstuff you would get a punch in your face then tarred and feathered. Now this is a billion if not trillion business selling ersatz food, Unilever, Nestle and all of them selling us everything except for actual food

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      The corporate crime tsunami is viewable in all aisles of any “grocery” store.

      I think though, that great business opprtunities are being ignored. For instance, Coca Cola could be selling insulin to it’s diabetic customers. Captian Greed is appalled such a profit making venture is not yet on the forefront of the minds of Coca Cola executives.

      Reply
    1. cnchal

      During the 70s and being confused about inflation and seeing “workers”, mostly government employees, which was normal as it is a government town, getting yearly wage increases in the seven to eight percent range, I asked someone slightly older and already on the home ownership track why inflation was good.

      With inflation, he told me, in a few years his mortgage payment would be as hard to pay as buying a ham sandwich.

      I was sceptical about that.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        With inflation, he told me, in a few years his mortgage payment would be as hard to pay as buying a ham sandwich.

        That would be especially true in Argentina if say you got a 30 year mortgage (I have no idea if this is possible) when buying a home 20 years ago, and with the Peso going from being on par with the US $, to being worth less than 2 Cents. The mortgage would cost the equivalent of a case of Malbec per month, or less than the $133 mortgage my parents paid on the first house they bought in LA in 1960.

        Now, the idea that your economy would be in tatters is the downside.

        Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        “With inflation, he told me, in a few years his mortgage payment would be as hard to pay as buying a ham sandwich.”

        This is exactly correct and it’s a very understated reason why Americans didn’t get into trouble with debt of various types before Volcker crushed inflation (and wages). You could count on big (nominal) raises each year, but your debt stayed the same in nominal terms (even if the rate charged was higher) meaning the real value of the debt would shrink each year.

        Your payments might feel steep for those first few years, but as inflation eroded the debt in real terms, the burden rapidly eased.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          To reinforce the point….

          it’s a contrast with the narrative from older people of…

          “My generation was responsible and knew how to budget, young people today are reckless.”

          The retort should be: “No, you weren’t. You got a bailout over time from inflation and nominal raises.”

          Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      Copying from an earlier post of mine:

      “Re Volcker carrying around a card of wages,

      Did he not realize most construction jobs are temporary and seasonal? Up here in NY anyway, most of them run 8 or 10 months and you get unemployment the rest of the year. That is why they post high wages, to try and attract workers by “filling in the gap”.”

      Adding, in other states and situations, you can go months in between jobs depending….

      Reply
    3. John k

      The inflation driver was, as usual, a shortage, in this case oil. Bu the time volcker came along this surge was mostly spent. Fought the last war… on behalf of the rich, who are terrified of inflation.
      I used to think of him as a hero, sold by msm itself peddling the wealthy narrative.

      Reply
    4. GramSci

      “Volcker’s life is a tragedy, not for him, but for the rest of us.”

      Yeah. Lost our house to him back in ’82. It set us back 20 years.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    Is This the End of Recycling? Pocket
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Have this friend who devoted about 1/3rd of her garage to a recycling sorting center of everything she used, it was really part of her persona of changing the world. I’d warned her years ago that it was all a chimera refuse, but she would hear none of my naysaying, as it didn’t jive with her rescuing refuge.

    When the hammer came down and the end buyers in China said no more please, it took about a year for her to realize what i’d been saying was right, and now she has a normal looking garage again.

    Sadly, recycling really was the only effort a good percentage of Americans participated in that made them feel as if they were making a difference for the better. Can’t think of anything else, can you?

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      From the article:
      … companies don’t bear the costs of disposal, they have no incentive to manufacture products out of material that will be easier to recycle.
      The best way to fix recycling is probably persuading people to buy less stuff …

      While I agree we should consume less (I think before long the world will anyway, like it or not), the author doesn’t appear to justify this leap of logic. Surely companies could be made to bear the full, true costs of their products? That might incentivise them a bit.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        a Trash Tax.
        it’ll be passed on to the end consumer, of course…
        but it still might help.
        my least favorite plastic is the rigid clear anti-theft packaging material that you need tools to remove.
        tax that, please.

        Reply
    2. nippersdad

      At our convenience centers (read transloading stations to the county dump) they have just changed the rules about what can and cannot be recycled. Steel, aluminum, paper/cardboard and plastic milk jugs (only) are the things that they are still willing to recycle.

      i can easily see our house being filled with glass bottles and plastic of every variety except milk jugs in our near future. We have become so accustomed to washing out everything and sorting it that it will be very hard to just throw it in the bins. You are exactly right; it really was one of the only things that we felt we could do to make a difference, and now we are going to be hoarding all of that stuff waiting for them to take it again. I am already thinking about…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle_wall

      We may need an intervention.

      Reply
    3. Geof

      The article talks about San Francisco. I find this ironic.

      I was at a Google conference there earlier this year. For lunch, attendees flooded out to a dozen fast food places for complementary food: a sandwich in a box, meat and potatoes – in a box, a slice of pizza (you guessed it), along with a bottle of juice, water, pop etc.

      Scattered around the park at the Moscone center were separated bins for recyclables. Which the attendees used. All of them. Mostly indiscriminately. (I did catch one woman Google employee separating her recyclables.)

      Was this a headache for the sanitation workers? Not at all! When the guy with the trash cart showed up, he pulled the boxes out of garbage and recycling bins and jammed them together for removal. The whole thing was a sham.

      I would not be surprised if there’s a negative correlation between privilege (in the traditional sense of wealth and social status) and compliance. But if the progressive city of gold can’t be bothered, it might be difficult to persuade the plebes to go out of their way for environmental measures.

      Communicated properly, I imagine that one good thing could come of this. There’s no silver bullet. As the article says, we simply need to consume less.

      My proposal: a high (100%?) tax on advertising. This would have little impact on the satisfaction of genuine needs, but it would put a nondiscrimatory damper on the creation of artificial ones. Reducing insecurity and desire would be psychologically benefical. And it would cut the legs out from the social media giants. If we were the customers, not the product, maybe we could get technology working for us again.

      Reply
      1. nothanks

        +1
        advertising is thought of as a given, but it erodes language and has created the norm of cynicism and disbelief.

        Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    The Economy of Evil Historicly
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Good article on fascism, then & now.

    The one constant in Victor Klemperer’s diary I Will Bear Witness is that the Nazis would lie if telling the truth was easier. He often describes the handful of people that attended some reich sponsored event, versus the newspaper accounts that had a capacity crowd there instead, that sort of thing.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      Also re this: I’m not familiar with fascist Italy and can’t say that I’m much better on Nazi Germany, but weren’t the Nazis, once in power, at least somewhat popular among ordinary folk?

      Maybe my impressions are based on Leni Riefenstal-style distortions, but wasn’t Hitler credited for pulling the country out of a severe economic depression? If things were so good for workers, I don’t understand how the party could have gained as much traction as it did, even with the big industrialists behind it.

      For that matter, I believe there’s some nostalgia today for Mussolini in Italy. At least I encountered a bit of that the last time I was there a few years ago.

      Reply
        1. Pelham

          Well, I am reading Richard Evans’ trilogy on Nazi Germany, and certainly the party was full of thugs and thuggish tactics to advance their agenda. But I’m not seeing the necessary bridge between industrialist backing and the degree of popular appeal the Nazis achieved — substantial albeit never a majority — especially given the political alternatives.

          Reply
          1. Chauncey Gardiner

            Don’t know if it’s on point or accurate, Pelham, but I recall an article I read some time ago. The writer said that Hitler’s popularity with the German people in the early 1930s was partly attributable to the German government’s direct issuance of a form of money known as “Labor Treasury Certificates”. He said these were issued to German workers and businesses in exchange for their labor and materials. The “money” was used to fund full-employment public works programs that included flood control, repair of public buildings, and construction of new buildings, roads, bridges, canals, and port facilities. The writer added that this was before significant armaments spending had begun in Germany. He said Germany had a stable currency, little debt, and no inflation during a time when millions of people in the U.S. were suffering in the Great Depression. He also noted the conceptual similarity of Germany’s monetary policy to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of “greenbacks” during the American civil war.

            Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Brexit”

    So Boris Johnson, being more into gimmicks than Elon Musk, has put out an ad for the Conservatives where he recreates the iconic scene from “Love Actually” where actor Andrew Lincoln pretends to be a carol singer and holds up a series of placards for his love, Keira Knightly. Here is the actual ad-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an6rjBDE6zA

    Only one problem though. Hugh Grant, who played the Prime Minister in that film, pointed out that the last card in that famous scene said “Because at Christmas you tell the truth”. Having Boris Johnson hold such a card might have just proved a step too far to show.

    Reply
  9. timbers

    New Cold War

    Pompeo and Lavrov clash over Russian election interference in news conference at State Department Washington Post (Kevin W)

    A depressing read. For example:


    While special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not establish a conspiracy between Russia and members of the Trump campaign, his office issued an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

    That’s not true. Mueller did not charged anyone with hacking the DNC, nor has he charged anyone Russian or otherwise with election meddling, the judge warned Mueller she would have to cite him in contempt of her court if he continued to publicly state Russia interfered in the election because she reviewed his evidence and told him it shows no such thing, and spreading false information could prejudice a potential future jury. But it won’t come to that, because Mueller is losing his case against the Russians, who I think he charged with not returning library books on time….err no…. unrelated backing violations and he can’t even prove and has had to ask for repeated extensions…something prosecutors do when they know they can’t prove their charges.

    President Trump met with Russia’s top diplomat in the Oval Office on Tuesday, creating a dramatic contrast as House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment against him for his actions in Ukraine, an ally fending off a Russian-backed insurrection.

    It’s not Russian backed, and it’s not an insurrection. Being attacked and defending yourself and property is not an insurrection.

    He has also given credence to a baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine, which is fighting an irregular war with Russia, had interfered in 2016 on behalf of Clinton.

    Ukraine isn’t at war with Russia. It is trying to cleanse itself of it’s own citizens of Russian heritage.

    The United States is the principal backer of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, but Zelensky entered the negotiating session with Russia weakened by revelations that Trump held up military aid and withheld a White House meeting with Zelensky.

    That’s not what I understand. Zelensky openly and early on, campaigned on improving relations with Russia so as to benefit Ukraine’s economy and because, well, it just makes sense to be on good terms with a giant neighbor.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      He has also given credence to a baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine, which is fighting an irregular war with Russia, had interfered in 2016 on behalf of Clinton.

      After over 40 years of watching our media fight for ‘the view from nowhere’ on CO2, the economy, race, civil rights, politics, up vs. down, etc., it’s kind of a shock to see them actually sink their teeth into a position and stick to it. Figures that it’d be a gaslight, but still a weird experience.

      Reply
  10. integer

    Re: How Russian Agents Hunt Down Kremlin Opponents

    So Der Spiegel is now working with Bellingcat and The Dossier Center, the latter of which is run by anti-Putin Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Hmmm. Regarding the article itself – Novichok and other dubious assertions aside – the part about facial recognition caught my eye. The article states:

    Comparisons of the photos conducted by DER SPIEGEL and Bellingcat using facial recognition software and three different photos of Krasikov and one of Solokov showed matches of 82 to 90 percent.

    The article doesn’t mention the significance of an “82 to 90 percent” match in the world of facial recognition software, or for that matter the name of the facial recognition software used for the analysis, but to my eye there is no way the two pics are of the same person. For one, their ears are different, and the ears on one of the pics appear not to have been included in the area being compared. The noses and eyebrows are also different, although the eyes are fairly similar. Anyway, I’d be quite interested to hear what other NC readers think regarding whether or not the two pics are of the same person.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Der Spiegel has been seemingly consistently anti Russia, pro imperialism. Amazingly, the other day, it published an article questioning Browder’s Magnitsky hoax.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      On the bright side, at least this murderous assassin was environmentally friendly. I mean he did use bicycles and a Volteboard e-scooter after all. Go green after going red so to say. Otherwise, the whole story is just Bellingcat/Spiegel bs as the trade-craft was so klutzy and amateurish.
      If the Russians were going to knock someone off, they would do it in a way where you would never be sure if it was an assassination at all. The CIA does the same and in South America a few years ago a whole spate of leftist leaders were coming down with cancer in a very short time.

      Reply
  11. bwilli123

    On the pm 2.5 rating, Lindfield in Sydney’s east scores a rating of 269 over the past 24 hours.
    (201-300 is rated Very Unhealthy) Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
    I’m in Adelaide, South Australia, a sparkling 4 at the moment.
    Highest I could find was Loni, Ghaziabad (north of New Delhi ) which scores a magical 575.
    http://aqicn.org/city/all/

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      We live west of Brisbane and have just had a helluva storm come through. Hopefully it will clear the haze that we have had for the past several days and help our local “firies” but that doesn’t do the people down in New South Wales any good.
      I understand that for the past twenty years that we have been sending our firies to North America to help out during our winter here but with the fire seasons both here and over there getting extended for longer and longer, this may no longer be an option except for brief periods.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        From what I am seeing, they are digging in and saying Australia “always” has bushfires. The capital, Canberra, is all smoked out and they are still whistling past this particular graveyard.

        Reply
      1. tegnost

        Here is the opening para…
        The percentage of start-up companies in the United States that are profitable at the time of their initial public stock offering has dropped to levels not seen since the 1990s dotcom stock market bubble. Uber, Lyft, and WeWork have incurred higher annual and cumulative losses than any other start-ups in history. All the major ride-sharing companies, including those in China, Singapore, and India, are losing money, with total losses exceeding $7 billion in 2018 alone. Most start-ups involved in bicycle and scooter sharing, office sharing, food delivery, peer-to peer lending, health care insurance and analysis, and other consumer services are also losing vast amounts of money, not only in the United States but in China and India. These huge losses are occurring even though start-ups are remaining private companies twice as long as they did during the dotcom bubble. The size of these losses endangers the American venture capital system itself.
        It seems to me to capture the state of affairs, but as an article it winds around a bit and never get back to the concluding remark, that American venture capital is endangered because of hype.
        Here is the conclusion…
        From superconductors to fusion, bioelectronics, quantum dots, perovskite solar cells, and quantum computing, real stories can be told about cost and performance challenges, the trade-offs between them, and the slow improvements toward overcoming these challenges. Addressing such issues can help policy-makers and managers make smarter investment decisions. And telling such stories makes it easier for students, managers, and policy-makers to avoid hype and the wasted effort it spawns—and ultimately will enable them to explore avenues of innovation much more likely to lead to real economic growth.
        IMO American venture capitalism is only hype. So we’re supposed to save it from itself? Changing the hype won’t fix the broken system. Also, a quibble, I clicked on a suggested reading, link and it went to “buy it now”, so that’s a citation that looks like a citation but isn’t.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          I know some people through my kids who are doing start-up companies using AI. Their goal is NOT to build a thriving company that hires lots of people and does good work. Their goal is to build their start-up enough and hype it so that some other company will buy them out. This is a whole different business model than most of us are used to.

          Reply
            1. The Historian

              I agree, but it makes perfect sense in their world. No one is going to get ahead by working anymore – it’s what you can sell that matters and what is selling right now are ideas, i.e, apps. To them the risks from failing are small, nothing lost by a few hours work, but the benefits of succeeding are huge. And if they fail, they can always move on to the next big idea and see if it sticks.

              The idea is the thing!

              Reply
          1. Katniss Everdeen

            When you enthusiastically give away your productive capacity and infrastructure, denigrating their very existence as an insult to your modernity and “intelligence,” eventually you’ll wind up with a bunch of people who have no idea what “making” something even means.

            Just order it up on your device and it magically appears. Good plan.

            I think that’s why they call it “artificial” iintelligence.

            Reply
          2. jef

            Most VC won’t even look at your prospectus without first hearing about your exit strategy, in other words when and for how much and who else has ponied up. Then they just might ask about what it is. If you can imply a monopoly or at least such a lions share of the market that nobody will dare try and enter.

            VC brought this on themselves.

            Reply
        2. cnchal

          TL;DR but will read the whole thing later.

          What I did read of it, the author conflates value as price. In my book, they are not the same.

          Value is what you get. Price is what you pay.

          . . . The stock market has tripled in value since 2008. Investments by US venture capitalists have risen about sixfold since 2001: the total invested in 2018 exceeded the peak of 2000, the last big year of the dotcom bubble, and the number of start-ups valued at more than $1 billion is now in the hundreds, compared with a handful just a decade ago . . .

          The point remains though. When recognition that tech is a wasteland becomes widespread, what will be the price of the wreckage?

          Reply
          1. eg

            There are lots of idiots who don’t know the difference between price and value. Arguably it is the defining idiocy of our time …

            Reply
        3. rtah100

          A VC here. The article was good and a primer in all the things we don’t invest in: no “platforms”, no blockchain, no “market places” (rent-skimming middlemen) or “apps” (surveillance capitalists) , in fact no consumer products of any kind*. Just a portfolio of B2B deep tech companies providing hardware-with-software solutions to hard problems, on a recurring revenue basis.

          I went to Websummit this year and came away more depressed than ever. There were nearly 100,000 people in Lisbon attending the conference and a large corner of one exhibition hall was penned off for the investor lounge. I chatted to an co-investor and we concluded that there were probably only enough true tech VC’s present at the conference to fill a minibus. The rest were MBA-types, surfing the wave of ZIRP money, who will be washed up again on the shores of banking and consulting when it breaks.

          The ratio of investable companies was even worse. The number of start-ups companies copying a failed model like Uber in another sector was a tragic waste of lives and money, if only because the chance to get in on the ground of those pyramid schemes was a decade ago. Forget teaching them to code, somebody needs to teach these people to build a better bezzle! Timing is everything.

          *well, one or two – rules are made to be broken. :-)

          Reply
      2. flora

        Interesting. I agree about the hype and the boom/bust cycle. But there’s no mention of monopolies and increasing concentration in various manufacturing and development centers. Monopoly doesn’t need innovation to make money since there’s no real competition for its business. It only needs a toll booth. It could be coincidental the rise of new concentrations of economic power and monopolies is happening at the same time as a falling rate of real technical and scientific innovation in the US.

        Reply
      3. Duke of Prunes

        Somebody probably came up with this before me, but I made this up the other day: it’s now should be called the “Silly-CON Valley” – silly ideas being sold by con-men (and women).

        Reply
    1. jef

      Not unlike a comment up-thread there is a huge failure to ask/invision where we want to end up wrt the application of technology/productivity and the future of life on the planet. We are planning to fail because of our failure to plan.

      Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    “The OCE reviewed receipts and records for the family’s stay at the [Boise] hotel and found that in addition to lodging expenses, the $2,259.22 paid for by the campaign committee included four in-room movies, gift shop purchases, and many charges with receipts signed by Rep. Hunter’s three children,” the report said.

    The report also cataloged five $125 charges covering air travel for a pet rabbit, in addition to $6,300 in travel expenses for family and acquaintances, such as five flights for Margaret Hunter’s mother and several trips for people connected to the Hunter children’s private school, Christian Unified.

    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-10/congressional-ethics-office-found-pervasive-evidence-of-hunters-misspending-of-campaign-funds
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    He was the whole righty-tighty-gawdalmighty evang veteran package, do as I say-not as I do, and he’ll do a year in jail for what looks like a 20 year sentence, so there must be a god looking after him.

    He claimed all along it was a witch hunt, but he turned out to be the witch, or in his case would it be a warlock?

    Reply
  13. Duck1

    RE: export of blood
    2000-learn to code
    2020-learn to bleed

    also good look for Nancy hard assing the progs over drug pricing in a bill which will die in the Senate
    donors, job one!

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      A caution: the article suggests it’s human blood that’s about 2% of exports. But the trade category is human/animal blood. I can’t find a direct breakdown, but this CDC link indicates that for imports, the ratio is 63:2 animal:human. If the ratio for exports is similar, the article is badly overstating.

      Still ain’t a pretty look.

      cdc.gov/cpr/ipp/docs/importing-exporting-cber-regulated-products.pdf

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “FAA engineers objected to Boeing’s removal of some 787 lightning protection measures”

    Just for a bit of context, I will quote from an article about airliners and lightning-

    “It is estimated that on average, each airplane in the U.S. commercial fleet is struck lightly by lightning more than once each year. In fact, aircraft often trigger lightning when flying through a heavily charged region of a cloud. In these instances, the lightning flash originates at the airplane and extends away in opposite directions…

    The last confirmed commercial plane crash in the U.S. directly attributed to lightning occurred in 1967, when lightning caused a catastrophic fuel tank explosion. Since then, much has been learned about how lightning can affect airplanes. As a result, protection techniques have improved. Today, airplanes receive a rigorous set of lightning certification tests to verify the safety of their designs.”

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-happens-when-lightni/

    Reply
  15. Carolinian

    Sundance director on the Hillary film he chose

    “I was a Hillary supporter, but I don’t know if I ever loved her as much as I did watching this film. Her strength and intelligence,” he continued. “Seeing the struggle of her trying to [run for president] in a changing world. All the rules were changing. Things were happening that would kick a candidate [like Trump] out were making him stronger. It’s just fascinating to watch.”

    Here’s hoping plenty of Kleenex on hand for the premier.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      I can’t wait for the inspiring scenes of her taking over the DNC, down to the point in having veto power on press releases, working with media figures to torpedo her opponent and then blaming everyone else for her horrible campaign. So inspiring. Is Neera Tanden or David Brock in the film? I sure hope so, such likeable and down to Earth folks.

      Reply
    2. chuckster

      She’ll be back! Like most aggressive diseases, Hillary will go into remission and then reappear with a vengeance. She needs to be asked about WaPo’s Afghanistan story (as do all the candidates at the “debate” next week).

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The more I think about it the more I think Buttgig is simply the CIA’s candidate. The story is too fishy: small-town mayor, all of a sudden the media and billionaire darling. A nasty piece of work.

        Reply
    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Over/under on appearance of the word “Sanders” and/or “Bernie” is 2.5 for the entire documentary.

      My money’s on the under.

      Reply
    4. Duke of Prunes

      “Things were happening that would kick a candidate [like Trump] out were making him stronger.”

      Translation: None of H’s dirty tricks worked.

      Alternative translation: H was so despised as a candidate that it was next to impossible for Trump to look worse.

      Reply
  16. Mike

    Re: How the Global North’s Left Media Helped Pave the Way for Bolivia’s Right-Wing Coup FAIR

    Once there was a saying “A plague on both your houses…”, and it seems it is warranted here. FAIR represents the ecological publications it quotes as a “global North Left”, but ignores that this same movement has been split between Left and Right since its inception. The anti-development argument pertaining to nations struggling to gain any seat at the table of self-determination is a completely Right-wing excrescense, all to leave such development in the hands of the bad-bad Global capitalists, who can then have a finger wave tossed at them by the same ecological activists, playing savior of the planet in their minds while doing nothing to change exploitation on the ground. The Left wing is too weak to bother with.

    On a note from yesterday (The FBI Inspector General’s Report Has Bad News for Democrats, Too), it is interesting that even Jimmy Dore missed the important note in the Justice OIG Report about Carter Page being a “US operational contact” for “another US governmental agency”. This in itself says volumes about the schism in the intelligence agencies along political party lines, and leads to questioning the hastiness in the mighty push for one side to defeat the other.

    Reply
  17. David

    The “Economy of Evil” article seems to me to miss the point. Or actually two points.
    The German social security system designed by Bismark was explicitly a class-war device, to do the absolute minimum necessary to undercut demands for something more far-reaching. The Left and the Trades Unions were well aware of this, and were strongly opposed to the system.
    Fascism is not “public good replaced by private profit.” Indeed Fascism properly understood is not a political ideology at all, but a vision of life. For Fascism, all life was a bitter and unrelenting struggle for survival and dominance. There was no Adam Smith style hidden hand to smooth out problems: the weakest perished and that was it, because it was a law of nature. Competition was the nature of life, from the lowliest clerical job in the Party to the apocalyptic exterminatory struggle between Aryans and Slavs. So obviously the economy had to be just as cut-throat and competitive as anything else. The Nazis positively encouraged competition, overlap and duplication in every area they could think of, with ultimately disastrous results. The idea of Hitler as a class warrior for the interests of the bourgeoisie was popular during the 60s and 70s, largely because of the influence of historians from East Germany, and it’s odd to see it being disinterred today.
    Part of the problem is that regimes often carelessly labelled “fascist” (Franco’s Spain, Pétain’s France) were nothing of the kind. They were reactionary, establishment regimes trying to restore what they saw as a lost social order. They had, at best, a wary relationship with the new capitalist classes, and often did have a vaguely corporatist agenda. But that’s a different story.

    Reply
    1. New Wafer Army

      Thank you, David. The problem is that when you strip away the flowery rhetoric of fascism, the ode to the new man, the paean to blut und boden, la mistica fascista, what is left to distinguish the novus ordo from a reactionary, authoritarian bourgeois dictatorship? Does it matter if the material conditions for workers mean they are reduced to serfdom?

      Reply
      1. David

        Well, the Nazis were radicals rather than reactionaries, and most of their leadership was from marginal or lower-class groups or had a background of personal failure . I think of them as the ultimate political start-up: people who had dropped out of life before getting lucky. In some ways they were also fiercely anti-bourgeois: they were violently anti-religious, for example, and you had to be a declared atheist to join the SS. So I think the difference does matter, not least because German workers didn’t do too badly materially under Nazism: it was better than being unemployed.

        Reply
        1. eg

          “German workers didn’t do too badly materially under Nazism: it was better than being unemployed.”

          Reminds me of the quote attributed to Jay Gould that he could “hire one half of the working class to kill the other half …”

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          ‘had a background of personal failure’

          Yeah, I noticed that too in reading about the men who came to power. In some ways it was like gutter gangsters getting control of an entire country and lots of them had awful histories.
          A bit strange having to declare that you were an atheist before joining the SS in that every German soldier wore a belt buckle that bore the legend “Got mit uns” which means God is with Us. One of life’s ironies.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The mustachioed Austrian was struggling in obscurity before industrial interests (*cough American cough*) plucked him out and funded him

            Reply
          2. Plenue

            “A bit strange having to declare that you were an atheist before joining the SS”

            I have no idea where you picked this idea up, but it doesn’t seem to be true. In fact the exact opposite was the case https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottgl%C3%A4ubig :

            “Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, himself an ex-Catholic, was one of the main promoters of the gottgläubig movement.[2] He was hostile towards Christianity, its values, the churches and their clergy.[2] However, Himmler declared: “As National Socialists, we believe in a Godly worldview.”[2] He insisted on the existence of a creator-God, who favoured and guided the Third Reich and the German nation, as he announced to the SS: “We believe in a God Almighty who stands above us; he has created the earth, the Fatherland, and the Volk, and he has sent us the Führer. Any human being who does not believe in God should be considered arrogant, megalomaniacal, and stupid and thus not suited for the SS.”[2] He did not allow atheists into the SS, arguing that their “refusal to acknowledge higher powers” would be a “potential source of indiscipline”.[12]”

            Religion to the Nazis was first and foremost a political issue. Whatever the personal beliefs of party leaders, Germany was something like 95% Christian of one sort or other. Nazism had to allow for it and couch itself in terms that could appeal to Christians. If they had ever gotten their Thousand Year Reich they may have made it a long term goal to eradicate religion altogether, or to replace Christianity with a weird ‘reconstructed’ Germanic paganism.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              ‘I have no idea where you picked this idea up’

              I was more or less quoting David’s comment above at 1:37 pm. Per your comment, I do seem to recall reading that under Germany at the time, each married couple received a copy of “Mein Kampf” and churches were expected to have a copy on display during services. But most people went along with it to avoid a lot of unnecessary hassle.

              Reply
            2. David

              As I recall it was from Peter Longerich’s biography of Himmler. On reflection, « pagan » would have been a better chiice, since the hostility was to Christianity rather than all religion, though in the context in which I was speaking – bourgeois values – the difference wasn’t that great.

              Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      For once, I find myself agreeing with Hitler, though I’d draw the opposite conclusion about the way forward.
      In February 1933, as Chancellor, Hitler met with the leading German industrialists at the home of Hermann Goring. There were representatives from IG Farben, AG Siemens, BMW, coal mining magnates, Theissen Corp, AG Krupp, as well as a locust of Bankers, investors, and other Germans belonging to the top 1%. During this meeting, Hitler said, “Private enterprise cannot be maintained in the age of democracy.”

      Reply
    3. Plenue

      One thing I love about the asinine peak edgelord-ism that is fascism is that it was a complete failure even by its own standards. Through its own stupidity and relentless belligerence it united much of the world against it, and proved itself unworthy of survival. It was put down like a rabid dog.

      Fascism is literally the ideology of losers, as in the people who lost.

      Reply
  18. Off The Street

    Living up to the old pork slaughter phrase about “everything but the squeal”. Now, if they could only find a way to monetize those squeals.

    Reply
  19. Carolinian

    Re The dark side of plant-based food

    Traditional livestock gets people through difficult seasons, prevents malnutrition in impoverished communities, and provides economic security.

    My mother and her brothers and sisters grew up on a small farm near where I live. This was a time when everybody in the rural South was poor and they lived off milk and eggs and chickens as well a garden. Throughout the year they would feed slops to the hog which was then slaughtered and processed to provide food through the winter. Without the animals this lifestyle would not have been possible.

    Of course now that farm is covered with houses and Americans are not nearly so poor. Some of her family grew up to be quite well to do. But making poorer countries dependent on Monsanto/Bayer and giant agribusiness is clearly a recipe for disaster. They’ll be like those Irish with their potatoes–one blight away from Malthusian doom.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      With regard to your 2nd to last sentence, if you substituted poorer ‘counties’ for countries, than your comment could well apply to the destitute country of Merica ..

      Reply
  20. LaRuse

    Re: a ban on glitter – this is a ban I am 100% in support of.
    Glitter is evil, hateful stuff. As the parent of a formerly toddler age female, for whom 60% of the toys she was gifted with from Grand Parental Units seemed to be required to have poorly glued on glitter coatings, I have termed glitter “The Herpes of the Arts and Crafts World.” Once you catch glitter, you have it for life.
    There is no vaccine and recent strains appear to have evolved vacuum and microfiber cloth resistance.

    Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Our son was a Lego fanatic, but pieces kept disappearing. Sometimes we found them in the vacuum. No shag carpet, fortunately – about 1980.

        We found a very large tray for him to keep them in. That helped a lot.

        Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    I always thought Octopi Wall Street could have made a difference, no lending libraries or hand signaling, more of an arms race.

    Great photo~

    Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    “Impeachment”

    Just as a reminder, does anybody remember the origins of the Steele dossier which triggered all these rat-bag investigations and hearings? Ukrainegate is all about charges of Trump trying to source dirt from the Ukraine against a political rival using foreigners whereas…
    The DNC and Hillary (really the same back in 2016) hired a foreign spy, using Fusion GPS as a “legal” cut-out, to get dirt on Trump from Russian “sources” as he was a political rival. Not the same obviously-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier#What_the_DNC,_Clinton_campaign,_and_Steele_knew

    Reply
    1. marym

      From the lawfareblog link:

      The report makes clear that the Steele dossier had nothing to do with the predication of the investigation…Here’s what Horowitz has to say on the subject: “FBI Headquarters and the members of the Crossfire Hurricane team did not receive the first Steele reports until September 19—weeks after the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was opened—and were not aware of any of the information in the reports prior to that date.” It also “found no evidence that the FBI undertook any investigative activities directed at the Trump campaign or members of the Trump campaign before opening Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016.”

      Political opposition research isn’t illegal. A president using the power of the office and by-passing Congressional appropriation power, to bribe the head of another country to announce an investigation of a political rival, for his own personal political advantage is at least arguably an abuse of power.

      (Thinking of changing my screen name to: For the record I think impeachment for Ukrainegate is a ridiculous stunt unless it had been a line item in a larger picture of corruption and self-dealing.)

      Reply
      1. john ashley

        Lawfare are not as good as they think they are.

        If the dossier was not the predicate(let’s play a game here) then what was.?

        Could it be weaker even than the “not the predicate”?

        Further, show of hands of all those who really believe that Trump needed any more evidence to rip Biden than what is in the public domain.

        After all , the case can be made just as strongly that Vp Biden at the time was looking out for (at least) his family income when he was looking to withhold aid. Would that not have helped the ruskies?

        thinking of changing my name to:
        If this is the first instance of corrupt self dealing one is aware of then one must be blinded by something else.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          “If this is the first instance of corrupt self dealing one is aware of then one must be blinded by something else.”

          Indeed, blinded by money. Most likely obtained via corrupt self-dealing.

          Reply
        2. marym

          Whatever we think of official US policy in Ukraine, what Biden was doing was a part of it, not a one-off thing he decided to do. Maybe he should have recused if there was a family advantage. Let’s say for argument it was corrupt. That’s not an argument that what Trump did isn’t corrupt.

          Whatever evil there is on one “side”, there’s comparable on the other. During the Obama years his followers responded to criticism with “Bush was worse” or “McCain would have been worse,” true in some instances. Now we have “Obama did it too” or “Clinton would have been worse,” also true in some instances.

          I didn’t buy it as a reason not to oppose the evil-of-the-day then, and don’t buy it now. Maybe I should just change my screen name to “contrarym”

          Reply
          1. False Solace

            Wait, so you’re saying that Biden’s actions were part of official US policy which makes them OK. But Trump is the actual president. He decides the policy. There’s no one else for him to report to, he is the decider. So his actions were part of official US policy too no matter how “one off” they may appear to you.

            If you want to call Trump corrupt, which he surely is, do so on some other basis. If you think Trump’s actions here were corrupt, Biden’s were too. Except that Biden’s son personally profited and I don’t see that accusation being made of Trump, which means Biden was, as far as we know, worse because he succeeded in profiting.

            Reply
            1. marym

              I’m not saying the Obama-era policy was OK. but that it was an actual policy – communicated within the diplomatic service, known to US allies, supported by Congressional appropriations.

              Here’s an excerpt from a Vox explainer re the policy at the time.

              I

              t wasn’t just the US that wanted Shokin gone, either — many other Western European officials, including the IMF’s then-managing director Christine Lagarde, also insisted Ukraine was doing far too little about corruption.

              But though Biden may have taken credit for it, this was hardly his unique idea. “Everyone in the Western community wanted Shokin sacked,” Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told the Wall Street Journal. “The whole G-7, the IMF, the EBRD, everybody was united that Shokin must go, and the spokesman for this was Joe Biden.”

              I don’t understand the defense of Trump that he can do whatever he wants, or that seeking dirt on political rivals is “foreign policy.”

              He’s supposed to define policies, hire competent people, and communicate policy to those expected to execute them. He’s obligated by the Constitution to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, which would possibly include laws governing disbursement of lawful appropriations, and laws governing international cooperation on investigating a US citizen. Nothing about the phone call fits any of that, so I call it one-off, and done for his personal political advantage.

              Again, I don’t think it was the most corrupt thing he or any other administration has done. That doesn’t mean it’s how non-corrupt governance would function, or that it can be excused as “foreign policy” or the rightful prerogative of a president.

              Reply
      2. anon in so cal

        Except the predication of the Crossfire investigation was itself always bogus, just like the Steele dossier. Just because the DOJ approved the “predicate” for Crossfire, does not make said predicate legitimate. It was based on some emails from Papadopoulos, IIRC, and input from John Brennan (who has lied about it repeatedly).

        Reply
      3. The Rev Kev

        ‘The report makes clear that the Steele dossier had nothing to do with the predication of the investigation’

        It was the Steele dossier which was used in the FISA court to get authorization by the FBI to spy on the whole Trump circus which became a general fishing expedition. No Steele dossier, no warrants to go investigating Trump on “collusion”. In any case, it would have been far easier to use the Steele dossier to build a Russian collusion case against Hillary – and it would have stuck.

        Reply
        1. anon in so cal

          “it would have been far easier to use the Steele dossier to build a Russian collusion case against Hillary – and it would have stuck.”

          It’s highly unlikely Steele ever had any contacts with anyone in the Russian gov.

          Earlier, as predication for Crossfire Hurricane, Mifsud and Downer also *claimed* to have learned from high-level contacts in the Ru gov that RU had damning emails about HRC. They shared this with Papadopoulos in a London bar. Was this not the origin of the false allegations that Russia hacked the DNC server? Mifsud was probably working with UK intel. Downer was a huge Australian donor to the Clinton Foundation. So Clinton was colluding with the UK and Australia?

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Well since the Clinton Foundation got $88 million from the Australian government, well yes. Here is a bit more on this snake pit of relations-

            https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/12/the-fabricated-predicate-to-spy-on-the-trump-campaign-by-larry-c-johnson.html

            That article has a link to Mifsud’s relations with the CIA, the FBI, and British Intelligence. Its spooks all the way down-

            https://www.sott.net/article/405550-The-death-of-Russiagate-Mueller-team-tied-to-Mifsuds-network-a-tangled-web

            Reply
  23. Ted

    If we take Taibbi’s read of the Horowitz report with the news of lies about Afghanistan (surprise, surprise, surprise), what we get is clear evidence of a government and its stenographer press that is wholly incompetent, self serving, and dangerous. These are probably the two biggest items to hit the public square in decades, and yet … all impeachment all the time. Coincidence? I think not.

    Reply
  24. IronForge

    Funny,

    When a Glitter Ban article was mentioned, I associated with Young Girls, Lady Figure Skaters, Showgirls, and Cabaret Dancers.

    I once saw a young Lady Recruiter wear glitter at a Tech Job Fair at the LAX Air Force Base. Fighting back the Laughter(since this WAS happening at the corner of LAX Real Estate known for Clubs an Billboards for such Clubs) Had a strong urge to pull her aside to tell her that Ladies shouldn’t wear glitter for “day-time” work events; but didn’t because of the slight and distinct possibility that she works as a Tech Recruiter – and as a Dancer.

    She was working – I figured Older Ladies would eventually address that if she was too young to discern.

    Funny, nonetheless.

    BTW – I never associated glitter with Drag Queens – probably because I usually ignore them whenever they enter my field of vision.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Higgins began life commenting on the Grauniad’s blogs. His “talent” was soon spotted and he progressed from being a bed room obsessive key board cold warrior to “bell end” cat. He lives in the Midlands, not far from the jihadist known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The jihadist operates from above a shop.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Crap you mean there’s a career path from blog commenter to actual professional slinger of BS? Why did I not know this?

        I’m tired of doing productive things, it’s not very rewarding actually.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          A Fellowship with the Atlantic Council helps pave the way. (I don’t recall Higgins’ connections with them being mentioned during the interview.)
          From Wikipedia, “Eliot Higgins”:

          From 2016 until early 2019, Higgins was a senior fellow in the Digital Forensic Research Lab and Future Europe Initiative; projects run by the Atlantic Council, a leading US geopolitical strategy think-tank based in Washington, D.C.
          In 2015, Higgins partnered with the Atlantic Council to co-author the report Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine which examined direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine. The report was the inspiration for the documentary Selfie Soldiers in which Vice News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky followed digital traces left by a Russian soldier named Bato Dambaev who was sent to fight in Eastern Ukraine. In June 2015 on the invitation of former Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Higgins together with his report co-author Atlantic Council’s Maks Czuperski presented Hiding in Plain Sight at the European Parliament alongside Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin and former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Higgins was also one of five authors of an Atlantic Council report released in 2016, “Distract, Deceive, Destroy,” on Russia’s role in Syria.

          Reply
  25. anon in so cal

    Bird decline:

    As Emma notes, vastly fewer birds. We used to regularly get about 100 Dark-Eyed Juncos, no exaggeration. They would hang around as long as possible, sometimes as late as early July, then disappear to higher altitudes for a couple of months, return in late summer / early Fall. This year, they returned much later than usual, and in much smaller numbers. She comments that the dreaded Cooper’s Hawks are doing well. Damn, I hate Cooper’s. They swoop in and get Band Tails, Doves, Finches, even Yellow Rump Warblers at the nectar feeder. But they also skulk around on the ground.

    Reply
  26. xkeyscored

    Our Lying Military, Our Lying Government – American Conservative (resilc)
    “We learned nothing from Vietnam, did we? Not a damn thing.”

    I utterly disagree. The US establishment learned from their war on Indochina that the draft and dead and wounded US soldiers were not popular with voters. Which is why, a few years after that war ended, when they decided “another Vietnam” would be a great idea, they outsourced it to the Soviet Union.
    The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border [into Afghanistan], I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”
    – Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998)
    https://dgibbs.faculty.arizona.edu/brzezinski_interview

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      US
      Afghanistan
      Iraq
      Syria
      Libya

      800 bases (approx) around the world, protecting what? The American Way of Life? Defense Contractors? The dollar? Google? Faceborg? It is certainly is not American manufacturing.

      Or is it fighting “them” (an undefined set of entities) over there and not at home, where the only criteria appears to be “we must be there” for some nebulous reason. Which should not include “provide a focal point for local discontent,” while simultaneously happily acting an an empire while denying that, yet while overthrowing or undermining governments who believe there is a different way for their people.

      And the different way appears to include spreading misery, and asset stripping in those so called “allies.”

      While simultaneously denying Climate Change, slagging off a 16 year old who has the cheek to point out the issues, and pretending that unrest in Hong Kong is any of the US’ business.

      Reply
  27. anon in so cal

    John Helmer on Turkey’s ambitions and the S-400s

    “The 370-kilometre southward reach of the Turkish-Libyan EEZ is well within the range of the new S-400 missile system which Russia has supplied Erdogan, although the full deliveries contracted for have yet to be fulfilled. Russian reporting last week of Turkish tests of the S-400 can be followed in this English translation. Note that no details have been reported of the ranges of detection and interception for the Turkish operation of these S-400s. Also, until all deliveries are completed, the location of the mobile missile batteries is uncertain.

    What is clear already is that the range of the S-400 may extend to the Libyan shoreline if Erdogan decides to deploy the S-400 on the south-westernmost point of the Turkish coast as drawn on the MoU map, and if Erdogan and the GNA agree on a Turkish military protectorate for the Libyan EEZ. For discussion in July of that probability, well before the MoU was negotiated, read this. For more details of the strategic range of the Turkish S-400 against Greece, Cyprus, and also Italy,”

    http://johnhelmer.net/the-sultans-new-power-grab-is-the-mediterranean-to-the-libyan-shore-what-role-for-the-russian-s-400/#more-21685

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      One big advantage to Turkey for the S400, is that the US cannot turn it off if the Israelis come calling, or for some other Imperial reason.

      Reply
  28. J.Kosmos

    Thank you for the article on fascist economic policy. Reminds me of the excellent documentary Fascism Inc. Destroys the argument from Trump supporters that he can’t be fascist because he wants to shrink the government, I actually ran across that argument from an otherwise intelligent and well read person when I said Trumps politics are reminiscent of the fascists.

    Reply
  29. Annieb

    Re: US blood export

    Read the original article for more hideous detail.
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/harvesting-blood-americas-poor-late-stage-capitalism

    I didn’t know there are a slew of blood clinics on the US side of the Mexican border. They are illegal on the Mexican side and this article says they are not too picky about the cleanliness of the donor blood from Mexican nationals.
    Also, teenage blood is in high demand in Silicon valley where some believe injection of youthful blood is an effective anti aging treatment.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Silicon Valley is embracing pseudoscience now? Wonderful…

      Also this means Silicon Valley tycoons are becoming literal vampires.

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      Also, teenage blood is in high demand in Silicon valley where some believe injection of youthful blood is an effective anti aging treatment.
      Paedophilic vampirism. Sounds like something straight out of a novel or movie.

      Reply
  30. ewmayer

    “Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992 | The Conversation” — I *hate* it when journos use hard-to-translate-into-meaningful-terms units simply to score a really huge-sounding scary-headline number. A ton of ice, a little more than a cubic meter, is an appropriate unit for driveway-shoveling, but entirely wrong for a Greenland-sized ice sheet. The reader might want to know “on that scale, is a trillion tons a lot?” In fact that is *the* salient question. So why not just say “Greenland has lost 4000 cubic kilometers of ice since 1992”? That makes it clear that it’s a lot even at the scale of Greenland, and hey – the headline number still sounds impressive, just now in actual non-click-bait way.

    Reply

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