Links 12/12/19

Pigeons in tiny cowboy hats are a mystery in Las Vegas CNN

The Wall Street Bankers Who Burst Aramco’s $2 Trillion Bubble Bloomberg (Furzy Mouse).

How Goldman Sachs could wiggle free of 1MDB Asia Times (KW).

Apple CEO Tim Cook says monopolies aren’t bad if they aren’t abused Business Insider (KW).

Double Environmental Injustice — Climate Change, Hurricane Dorian, and the Bahamas NEJM


London aquarium’s gender-neutral penguin just predicted Jeremy Corbyn will win the election Pink News

UK PM Johnson heads for Brexit election win in tightening race Reuters

Boris Johnson wants to destroy the Britain I love. I cannot vote Conservative Guardian

Facebook promised transparency on political ads. Its system crashed days before the UK election CNN

US & UK Military-Intelligence Apparatus Deploy Media Smears Against Corbyn Consortium News

Irreversible Shift n+1. A long-form look at London on the brink of the election.

Berlin says a ‘standard’ EU-UK trade deal can be done in 2020 Politico

French PM defies unions with pension overhaul, they pledge more strikes Reuters

North Atlantic mini states in geopolitical turbulence EU Observer


A Calm After The Storm Being Water

Foreign Experts Quit Inquiry of Hong Kong Police Over Lack of Powers NYT

China Still Needs Hong Kong Foreign Policy

* * *

Samsung: China smartphone factory closure leaves local community counting the cost South China Morning Post (Furzy Mouse).

China Inc’s search for factories hits technological wall in Cambodia Nikkei Asian Review

Indo-Pacific at the heart of rules-based order Japan Times. The Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy.


Trump becoming ‘dictator’, warn US Democrats on fiery first day of impeachment debate France24. Liberal Democrats: “Trump is Hitler!” Also liberal Democrats: “Mein Führer, sie Raumstreitkräfte!”

House Democrats brace for some defections among moderates on impeachment of Trump WaPo. It’s a big tent party.

The Trade-Offs in the Articles of Impeachment LawFare. The word from Brookings. “In a separate piece, we’ll suggest some specific changes to improve the draft articles within this framework.”

The Issue-Less Impeachment: The Corporate Democrats Stand for Nothing, So They Impeach for Nothing Black Agenda Report

Barr thinks FBI may have acted in ‘bad faith’ in probing Trump campaign’s links to Russia NBC

Eric Holder: William Barr is unfit to be attorney general WaPo

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments Bloomberg. From one of the reporters:

How Hackers Are Breaking Into Ring Cameras Vice

Google Gives Feds 1,500 Phone Locations In Unprecedented ‘Geofence’ Search Forbes

Inspector general says the FBI is not vindicated by his report on Trump campaign probe WaPo

We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. NYT

Trump Transition

Trump Signs Order Interpreting Judaism As A Nationality And Race The American Conservative

Jared Kushner: President Trump Is Defending Jewish Students NYT

Weaponizing American Jews Yasha Levine

* * *

White House Summons Feuding Health Officials for Counseling Session NYT

Doctors Arrested During Border Flu Shot Protest MedPage Today

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘Are You in This?’ Defense One. A cri de coeur from the national security establishment.

Could You Sink An Aircraft Carrier Without Using a Missile? The National Interest. Sure. Catapults and elevators that don’t work.

Congress holds first hearing on Haiti in six years amid political instability Miami Herald

Ecuador’s indigenous people under threat from oil drilling Financial Times

Indigenous Peoples Are Under Attack in Bolivia After Evo Morales’ Departure Teen Vogue. The indigenous people are also a majority of Bolivia’s population, so let me know how that works out.

AMLO’s Popularity: The First Year Wilson Center

The surprising similarities between AMLO and Jair Bolsonaro The Economist. Hmm.

Class Warfare

SEIU Prez Knew of Sexual Misconduct and Personally Promoted Staffer Anyhow Payday Report

Rethinking the Infamous Milgram Experiment in Authoritarian Times Scientific American

Is this cave painting humanity’s oldest story? Nature

Some 24/7 Pharmacies and Grocery Stores Start Closing at Midnight; But Why? West Side Rag. I guess that’s when they roll up the sidewalks in Manhattan these days?

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.


  1. TiPs

    Re, the comment about the indigenous majority in Bolivia, it won’t matter if they don’t have the guns. As my twitter feed told me, 38 years ago yesterday, over 800 people were massacred in El Mozote, El Salvador by the army…

    The coup leaders took power based upon fictitious claims of election fraud, and they will retain power by that very method.

    1. Deschain

      “The indigenous people are also a majority of Bolivia’s population, so let me know how that works out.”

      Worked out pretty well for whites in South Africa.

      1. Stephen Gardner

        Until it didn’t. When the outrage becomes widespread enough there will be a reckoning. The system of privilege requires close contact between the elite and their “help”. Wait until the desperation and hatred build to the point that every cook and gardener is a potential threat. How fun is that?

        1. D. Fuller

          Unfortunately, there is no boycott and international pressure on Bolivia, that occurred with South Africa until Apartheid was ended. Quite the opposite.

          Politicians even try to outlaw BDS (as anti-Semitic) regarding Israel and the treatment of Palestinians. Protesting? OWS was crushed by Obama and the surveillance state while BLM was effectively neutered. Unless tens of millions turn out now?

          Good luck.

          Morales is considered “Communist” or some-such nonsense. Nevermind that the indigenous population of Bolivia would be the coal miners of Appalachia from The Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. Conservative Coal Miners in WV that fed the movement to unionize.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘Are You in This?’

    The article is complaining that ‘If so many Americans believe Russia is an ally, China is a good business partner, and terrorism isn’t worth fighting anymore, how can the United States be counted on for global security?’ I think that what we need is some clarifying here to see if the people that believe this really believe this. I have a plan.
    There are two parts. The first part is that the US should immediately bring back the draft. Yeah, you heard me. The second part is that the draft is exclusively drawn from the young men and women from the top 20% of the wealthiest section of the American population. Unless you can show missing limbs, there are no exceptions.
    After the first few drafts spend time fighting in Afghanistan, Africa, Somalia and all the other biker-bars of the world, we will then see if they keep maintaining their ideas about who should be the enemies and who should be their friends. Should be clarifying that.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Our politicians have well and truly drunk the Russia kool-aid the past few years which is remarkable when you consider that the Russian border is over 6,000 kilometers away from us. There is even a memorial plaque in Canberra to the Australians killed aboard MH17 to keep up a rallying point for tension with Russia. Sort of the same way that no US high-ranking politician is allowed to meet a high-ranking Russian without warning them not to meddle in US elections.
        That is a great link to that caves article below. I have seen some of them and it is mind-blowing how different their world was to ours – and yet they are us.

        1. Samuel Conner

          I don’t know how the Russians contain their fury at how we promoted Yeltsin. Or how we encouraged the privatisation of the SOEs, which led directly to the current oligarchy.

          We demonize Putin, but it seems to me that we created the conditions that led to his rise.

          This pattern is so consistent in recent decades, both abroad and at home, that I no longer grant the charitable assumption that the people who have done these things imagined that something good would result.

          1. anon in so cal

            The MSM and politicians exhort people in the US, UK, Australia, EU to demonize Putin. Unjustifiably.

            “….In addition to my personal experience with Putin, I’ve had discussions with numerous U.S. officials and American businessmen who have had years of experience working with him –– I believe it is safe to say that none would describe him as “brutal” or “thuggish,” or the other slanderous terms used to describe him in Western media.

            I met Putin years before he ever dreamed of being president of Russia, as did many of us working in St. Petersburg during the 1990s. Since the anti-Putin vilification started, I’ve become nearly obsessed with understanding his character. I think I’ve read every major speech he has given (including the full texts of his annual hours-long telephone “talk-ins” with Russian citizens)….

            ….If the latter is the case, and I think it is, he should get high marks for his performance over the past 14 years. It was no accident that Forbes declared him the World’s Most Powerful person of 2013, replacing Barack Obama who held the title in 2012. The following is my one personal experience with Putin….

            …From 2001 until today, I’ve watched the U.S. media negatively portray Putin, comparing him to Hitler, and making accusations against him of ordering assassinations and poisonings. Yet no one has come up with any concrete evidence for these allegations.

            During this period, I’ve traveled throughout Russia several times every year, and have watched the country slowly change under Putin’s watch. Taxes were lowered, inflation lessened, and laws slowly put in place. Schools and hospitals began improving. Small businesses were growing, agriculture was showing improvement, and stores were becoming stocked with food….

            So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia? To paraphrase Shakespeare, is it a case of protesting too much?

            Psychologists tell us that people often project on to others what they don’t want to face in themselves. Others carry our “shadow” when we refuse to own it. We confer on others the very traits that we are horrified to acknowledge in ourselves….”


            1. Samuel Conner

              Agreed. In saying, “we demonize Putin”, I did not mean to imply that I’m confident that the demonization is justified.

              It looks to me like, at least since 1991, Russia has been more a force for international stability and peace than US has.

              The 2014 Crimea and Donbass events might be argued to be counterexamples, but I suspect that if US had not advanced NATO to Russia’s western border and tried to lure Ukraine into its orbit, and not done whatever it did to add to the political chaos in Ukraine, Russia may not have had a motive to intervene.

            2. xkeyscored

              So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia?
              I’d say because they thought they’d defeated Russia/the USSR, but Putin has been proving them wrong. I think your previous paragraph explains precisely why Putin is being demonised: Russia was meant to be a desperate basket-case supplier of cheap raw materials to the west.

              “During this period, I’ve traveled throughout Russia several times every year, and have watched the country slowly change under Putin’s watch. Taxes were lowered, inflation lessened, and laws slowly put in place. Schools and hospitals began improving. Small businesses were growing, agriculture was showing improvement, and stores were becoming stocked with food….”

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Outside of the MBAs, what Americans have Russians seen up close? Bernie Sanders. I’ve been there. An old lady hit me with a cane, and two people asked me for directions (for whatever reason, people ask me for directions. This is not a good idea.).

            They probably avoid the ugly American tourist. 35…maybe even 32 year olds should have reasonable memories of the USSR, so a certain amount of ignorance can be tolerated when encountering Americans there or abroad.

            I forget which member of Adolph’s inner circle made the observation, but a German farmer and Russian farmer will never fight on their own. That is also one aspect. Putin isn’t demonizing us, so why would a Russian hate me? Besides going outside in May without a jacket on?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Russia at one time invited Germans to move there, many along the Volga river.

              Early German settlements were attacked during the Pugachev uprising. It would seem the German farmers did not always get along with or fare well among the Russians around.

              And during WW2, like the Crimean Tatars, the Volga Germans were deported to Siberia according to a couple of writers.

        2. Wukchumni

          A friend in Auckland took us around to where the gun emplacements were in the 19th century as a defense against Russian invaders.

        3. D. Fuller

          Just a note…

          that the Russian border is over 6,000 kilometers away from us


          Yes, “Russia!Russia!Russia!” is complete bunk. Dreamed up by the Hillary Clinton campaign staffers and Corporate Democrats.

          The problem with the impeachment proceedings? Crooks(D) impeaching a crook(R).

          There is good evidence that Trump did seek foreign intervention leveraging aid for personal gain. Normally, The President acts in the name of the U.S. public interest. In the case of allegations regarding UkraineGate? Personal gain. Democrats have a somewhat decent case.

          That’s the difference that people don’t want to realize. A very important difference. Face it, the two parties have turned government into a machine for personal gain. They fight over who gets to loot the public.

          While the public complains? “Goverment is the problem”. Government is a fiction we subscribe to. It can do nothing. There is no person named “Government” that shows up at your door to take stuff from anyone. Agents of government do that and the rules are written by people and enforced by agents (real people) of that fiction we call “government”. Civil asset forfeiture, for example. Real people taking stuff from other real people in the name of that fiction we call “government”.

          Government is not the problem. The politicians are. They are real people. And who puts the politicians there? VOTERS.

          Ultimately? Government isn’t the problem. Politicians are the symptom. The real problem? As usual… THE VOTERS.

            1. D. Fuller

              That’s a given. Voters did not matter in 2016 and 2017, to Hillary Clinton. If they did? She would have done what Obama accomplished prior – register voters with a massive campaign. That’s one important reason why Obama won, by countering Republican voter suppression efforts.

              Centrist Hillary Clinton pursued existing moderate voters in the suburbs everyone knows as Republicans, along with center-right Democrats. Starting in May of 2016, Greg Palast noted that The Clinton Campaign was essentially doing nothing about Republican voter suppression.

              The Democratic Party also ignored the fact that many voters did not want dynasties. Either on The Left or The Right. Jeb Bush was shut out, as well as being a lackluster candidate. The Democratic Party continues to ignore, in addition, that voters detest status-quo politics. Such as the gifts that Pelosi handed Trump to keep government funded.

              2020 for Democrats is shaping up to be similar to what just happened in England. The Democratic Party is all but incapable of change to respond to voter wishes.

              I fully expect Trump to win and that Congress will be Republican. It is not guaranteed though as there is still an eternity before elections.

              It’s not Trump’s to win. It’s for Democrats to lose; and Pelosi and Schumer are leading the charge to snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory, yet again.

      1. Carolinian

        But as in North Carolina, the pellet trade has also become a key part of the forests products industry. Under an international accounting framework, wood pellet emissions are tracked in the land use sector (where trees and plants soak up and store carbon) rather than in the energy sector (where burning fossil fuels emit carbon.) Countries that burn wood pellets for electricity count their emissions as zero and heavily subsidize the fuel. While European countries that supply pellets are supposed to count emissions in their land use sector, the requirements have been lax. (In the United States, they’re nonexistent.)

        If you go on Google Earth you can see the clearcuts up in the nearby mountains. These may not have been due to the pellet industry but sounds like the satellites will soon be showing a lot more bare ground. The Western NC mountains were always ripe for timber company exploitation since poorly suited to agriculture and at the end of the 19th century they were heavily logged. The so called Cradle of Forestry is in fact located in this area where Pinchot and the Vanderbilt heir set aside acreage for what became one of the first National Forests. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park came about to save what was left of the area from the timber barons.

    1. richard

      well, in the old day, the very old day where you had to supply your own armor and horse and other kit, that was how it was done
      of course back then the elite wanted to fight, because that was their role, and that was essentially how you made your mark and got stuff
      I like your idea, want to hear mine?
      completely unrelated to yours, or related maybe by homespun appeal:
      on all ballots for elective office the choice “neither” or “none of the candidates” shall be offered
      if this choice wins at least a plurality of votes, all parties involved must go back and nominate different candidates for the position
      they must keep doing this as long as a negative response wins a plurality or majority
      this would also be clarifying, as well as an enormously schadenfreude-laden source of fun.

    2. Bob

      A long time ago I graduated from West Point. While I was there we were taught then having an all volunteer Army he was a horrible thing. That there was a need to have a draft in order to prevent the military from becoming too insular and cut off from the rest of the population. It seems that things have changed drastically since Vietnam.

      1. doug

        Agree on the draft. I would start with 40 year olds and work down as needed. No excuses.
        No more wars….

        1. notabanktoadie

          Rather, children and grandchildren of Federal politicians (Congress, the Executive Branch, the Federal Judiciary) and officials (Pentagon. CIA, NSA, FBI, etc.) FIRST.

          But more fundamentally, wars provide jobs, while a just economic system would not normally require wage slavery of citizens.

        2. Massinissa

          Look, people keep saying this but its historically untrue. What always happens is that the rich buy their way out and everyone else gets shafted. The US has been almost perpetually at war since the early 19th century and the draft wasn’t rescinded until recently. The draft didn’t prevent our intervention in Korea, among others.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are some countries without armed forces, per Wikipedia’s Military Service entry. That list does not show any of the major powers.

        Further down in the article, China is listed as one without mandatory military service. It further states, without citation:

        Citizens of the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, as of 1997 and 1999, respectively, are not permitted to join the Chinese military; however, the defence of these two regions are protected by the Chinese military.[citation needed]

        Are they or are they not permitted? That’s an interesting question.

        Russia is listed under Countries with mandatory military service, without some exceptions, one being more like deferral than exemption. From the article:

        Studying in a university or similar place. All full-time students are free from conscription, but they can be drafted after they graduate (or if they drop out). Graduated students serve one year as privates, but if they have a military education, they have the option to serve two years as officers. Persons who continue full-time postgraduate education.

        If you or your parents have money, maybe you can stay in school for the entire period there is a war, based on the above reading.

        Then there is this:

        According to the Russian federal law, the Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Federal Protective Service (FSO), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and civil defence of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) are considered as military service.

        With the Foreign Intelligence Service provision above (though without citing any references), Moscow should be able to draft all the spices it needs, other than those recruited abroad.

      3. Big River Bandido

        Another strong argument for a draft is that it serves as a disincentive to go to war in the first place. With a draft, the public view of going to war is often tempered — as it should be. After all, you might be less inclined toward the imperial project if you know you might get called to fight it yourself. Politicians were much more chary of war in the era of conscription because they themselves might feel the consequences…at the ballot box.

        1. jrs

          If there were any evidence of that maybe. It only took over a decade to end the Vietnam war back when we had a draft, yea ok, that’s not promising.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Along the same line, China can be a good ally and Russia can be a good business partner.

      We can buy more gold from the latter, maybe more Vodka, though that is not necessarily a good thing. And perhaps we can also buy more greener energy from them…maybe wind power or solar power, if it could be shipped.

      And China can be an ally when dealing with North Korea, or if one day, if Turkey wants to be Greater Turkey and looks towards Central Asia, Beijing can be again a good ally. And we can potentially be useful should China one day have to resist Russia.

    4. VietnamVet

      The US Army during the Vietnam War was very Middle Class but imprisoned in a war that it couldn’t win. It mutinied. This was why Dick Nixon withdrew from the war. In his second term it cost him the Presidency. Afterwards the US Army was staffed with volunteers. The blowback from this had significant side effects. The US does not have the manpower to conquer Iraq let alone Iran. It relies on proxy forces and this Fall, once again, turned its back on an ally, the Kurds. The American Middle Class since it no longer provides the troops has been thrown in the dumpster by the Elite to be picked over and trashed. Overweight, addicted and trained to test, 71% of young Americans are unfit for military duty. After nineteen years of an unwinnable Afghan war, the new Cold War with Russia, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike force sailing in the Persian Gulf within Iranian missile range, and the conflict between globalists and nationalists within DC’s halls of power; a SNAFU is sure, sooner or later, to blow up the world.

  3. zagonostra

    >Black Agenda Report

    I haven’t seen Glen Ford on MSM (not that he would be invited on) or other media platforms in a while. I wish the Rising with Krystal and Saagar would have him on as a guest. I remember seeing him on DN! long ago, when Amy Goodman was still someone who I thought was a force against the ruling elites.

    The impeachment of Donald Trump has nothing to do with social justice… Rather, the corporate Democrats have methodically narrowed the scope of the indictment to exclude all the actual crimes of this president …for the obvious reason that both corporate parties and all modern U.S. presidents are collectively and individually guilty. In limiting the indictment to Trump’s attempted political extortion of Ukraine for the purpose of influencing a U.S. election – a laughable charge, since the Kiev regime is the creature of the U.S. (Democratic) engineered overthrow of the previous, elected Ukraine government…

    Trump will be put in the dock for a (relatively) minor offense as a kind of purgative of the whole corporate system’s rotten innards. It’s like indicting the mass-murdering, criminal war-waging South African apartheid regime for gerrymandering elections in which Blacks, by law, could not vote. The cited offense is meaningless, and all the rest is forgiven.

  4. katiebird

    Thinking about the Silicon Valley is listening story, I have searched and searched and don’t see a way to block the microphone on my iPad. Is it possible? How about on my Mac?

    A piece of tape can cover cameras but is the cost of having a computer that anyone can listen to me and my unwitting family whenever they want?

    1. HotComputerTipsRUs

      You should be able to turn off both in the system preferences, if you trust a virtual off-switch that is.

        1. hunkerdown

          Load up a sound-recording app and tap around the side of the case to find it while watching the volume meter. Where the sound is strongest, you’ll usually find a hole roughly 1mm in diameter. Pour maybe 1/4 gram of melted chocolate into that hole, and you’re all set.

        1. fajensen

          Why would people think there is only one microphone? These things are cheap and may not obviously look like a microphone.

          If one was really into exerting ones skills, one could probably use the motherboard as a mike by measuring the electrical field it emits!

          The problem is: where does it stop?

          One has to check every component, every bit of code and even if one could do this competently, “they” could still have done something with the silicon between the chip design and the fabbing.

          It is not worth the effort unless one is at “Snowden’s level of person of interest”.

      1. neo-realist

        If you simply physically close down the mac, doesn’t that prevent your conversations from being heard by the mic in the mac?

    2. Bugs Bunny

      There are Privacy settings in both Mac OS and iOS to enable mic and camera by application.

      You might want them on for something like, Skype, for example.

    3. polecat

      A 10 lb. Sledge ..

      .. Just make sure, after having achieved such a cathartic release, that you dispose of those bits of electronics and plastic properly.

    4. David

      If you are thinking of applications or programs listening to you, then on the modern Apple OSs you have to explicitly give them the right to do so. Under Settings on the iPad you can see which programs you have given access to – in my case it’s only Skype. Ditto for the Mac under its own Settings menu. In addition, on the Mac you can turn down the input volume to zero.
      If you’re worried about intelligence agencies trying to listen in, that’s a lot more difficult, because we really don’t know enough about their capabilities. The obvious steps are probably the best. For the iPad turn it off or put it into Airplane mode, or disable wifi. For the Mac, turn the input volume down to zero.

  5. Wukchumni

    Some 24/7 Pharmacies and Grocery Stores Start Closing at Midnight; But Why? West Side Rag.

    Here, the Wal*Mart supercenter in Visalia started closing @ midnight and opened again @ 6 am, and I asked a checker the reason for it, and she told me that the homeless would not only shoplift with impunity, but it also gave them a place to hang out in the wee hours, and they’d open food packages and dine ala cart.

    1. Steve H.

      Here we distinguish twixt the Kroghetto and Krogaire. Only one is still open 24h; the other is across the street from Overdose Park.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I was in Seoul, Korea recently, a famously 24/7 city, but there has been a very significant cut back in the number of places opening all hours. One business owner said it was entirely due to stricter labour laws, including compulsory extra payments for late night working.

      I wonder if insurance could also be an issue. I know of some businesses that open 24/7 because their insurance costs are lower when they have security on at all times, so they feel they might as well open since they have to pay staff anyway to keep the costs lower. But of course this frequently means unfortunate staff become effectively security workers in addition to servers or floor sweepers. Late night workers in my city have a hellish time at night dealing with drunks and others wandering in.

      I used to live close to what was claimed at the time to be Britains first 24 hour supermarket, the Sainsburys in Camden Town – it was infamous for having its aisles blocked with stoned people with baskets full of munchies at 2am on Saturday mornings. It was amusing to watch (but then again, I’d only be in there that late if I was coming home from a pub), but I’m sure the staff had to deal with all sorts of problems there, as there were always homeless people sleeping around the entrance.

      1. rusti

        One business owner said it was entirely due to stricter labour laws, including compulsory extra payments for late night working.

        I was in Seoul last year on a business trip visiting one of the electronics giants who was a supplier for a system I was responsible for. At around 5:30 in the evening a big bell rang out in the office, which was supposed to be an indication for the rank and file to go home. After a few glasses of soju in the evening the manager hosting us was singing the praises of President Moon Jae-in, who had been in office for about a year, for trying to implement labour-friendly reforms.

    3. Carolinian

      Middle of the night Walmarts can be bizarre. On recent road trip I visited one in Oklahoma and there were shoppers in there with babies .

        1. The Historian

          What a crude thing to say.

          BTW when I had small babies, most who wouldn’t sleep at night, I used to drive around after midnight sometimes trying to get them to fall asleep. And sometimes I would even go into an all night store to pick up things because I knew I was going to be very tired the next day. And FYI, I wasn’t on SNAP.

          1. Joe Well

            What a middle class thing to say.

            No shame in taking advantage of SNAP and nothing crude about talking about it.

            But it turns out that nowadays benefits availability varies by state and can get kind of complicated.

            Here is a ten-year-old Reuters article, “Midnight in the Food Stamp Economy.”

            From that article:

            “Once the clock strikes midnight and EBT cards are charged, you can see our results start to tick up,” says Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s chief financial officer.

            As food stamps become an increasingly common currency in a struggling U.S. economy, they are dictating changes in how even the biggest retailers do business.

            From Costco to Wal-Mart, store chains are rethinking years of strategy as they watch prized customers lose jobs and turn to this benefit, the stigma of which is disappearing not just in society, but in corporate America.

            I never knew about this, so thank you, Nordberg, for enlightening me.

          2. Carolinian

            These weren’t baby babies but one or two year olds. You wonder what their circadian rhythm is going to be like when they get older.

            And I’m not condemning the practice as the mothers may have had jobs forcing them to shop at night with nobody to mind their children. It just seemed odd and probably not a good thing for the kids.

            1. D. Fuller

              Anyone ever conduct a study on the attention span of children in relation to television shows being interrupted every few minutes?

              That would be interesting.

          3. inode_buddha

            And yet in some towns (such as mine), it would actually be true, regardless of crudity. Fully 75% of the population here is on some form of public assistance according to the local news. I do believe them, being in a post-industrial wasteland where the *entire town* is ghetto.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s only a few things I can’t find elsewhere that allows me to take a class-bottom bode trip through Wal*Mart, and i’m there mostly for the gawking, and seldom do I come away not amused.

        1. Carolinian

          Oh I shop there a fair amount for basics. If one is going to shop based on political stance then you’d have to avoid just about every retail establishment in middle America not to mention Amazon, Apple products etc.

          Our town did open a food co-op downtown a couple of years ago. It closed for lack of business (even though downtown is booming).

          1. Wukchumni

            I like to watch, and if you’re gonna claim to be an observer, you gotta be there. I also go to Target and it’s the same store pretty much-except for the clientele.

            You can see how things are going, help-yourself condiments disappeared from fast food places around the same time as the 2008 Financial Games was a money loser, belt tightening even when there are few holes left, although its the last bastion of straw demand in the state.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            I do too, just never realized that getting the same pineapple for $2.50 that goes for $5 down the street made me a gawk-worthy human zoo attraction.

            Whatever floats your “class-bottom bode.”

        2. inode_buddha

          I avoid Walmart like the plague, in the belief that they are one of the main reasons why people are so impoverished to begin with. Remember, everything in that store used to be made right here in the US by people who could live on their wages.

          1. Carolinian

            Like it or not Walmart is middle America. They got that way by giving their customers (if not their employees) what they want. This may not be what people in, say, Brooklyn want but Walmart has plenty of competition even now so you can’t say it’s just because they are ubiquitous. The chain store takeover of American retail didn’t start with Walton and before him there were dime stores and discount stores and the A & P grocery chain that was attacked as being the Walmart of its time. Try finding an A & P now.

            So Walmart’s moment may not last.

            1. Wukchumni

              And not all Wal*Marts are created equal, the ones I go into here have a scant book selection with lots of Christian titles, whereas the L.A. Wal*Marts have a much bigger book selection, with not nearly the dogma angle.

            2. Efmo

              Don’t forget that A&P had to respond to an anti-trust suit by the U.S. government, something Walmart will probably never have to deal with. I don’t think A&P was ever big enough as a result to crush both its competition and its suppliers to the extent Wal-Mart was able to.

              1. Carolinian

                My nearest Walmart has a Lidl across the street and an Aldi nearby as well as a Publix. Then there are the frequent dollar stores and Target. Their competition is very much uncrushed.

                1. sj

                  I hardly think lowest-common-denominator chain businesses were ever the competition. The competition was small privately owned businesses. How many of them are there across the street from your Walmart?

      2. polecat

        Almost every time I set foot into a wallyworld, I find the lighting to be awful .. to the extent that I slowdown to the point of near confusion .. followed by extreme torpor !!
        Things become a bit more tolerable when I walk in donning a pair of those special ‘sun glasses’, noticing amongst the throng of people the ones who really stand out – mostly 2nd tier management types talking into their watches …

    4. Eclair

      Wow, I am sensing some incipient demonization of our local residents who are without shelter and who may be addicted to some mind-numbing substances. Remarks about ‘the homeless’ shoplifting food as the reason for closing stores in the early morning hours, ‘homeless people’ sleeping around the entrances to stores (where is is marginally warmer and sheltered from rain/snow as being a ‘problem,’ one-offs about people shopping at night because it is when the money hits their SNAP cards, all these remarks are written casually. Like it is a given that unsheltered residents and those addicted to drugs are The Problem. A Problem that could, perhaps, be solved by just …. sweeping them up and removing them from our late night convenience stores, and downtown sidewalks. Taking them to a place where we won’t have to see them and be reminded of our system’s failures. Our failures.

      Maybe one person losing their job and being unable to pay their rent and ending up living in their car with all their clothes and family photos stuffed in the back seat, is the result of an individual’s fault. Maybe one soldier returned from three tours of duty in Iraq with PTSD and back pain and easy access to opioids, sleeping in a downtown doorway because the Shelter turned him away (no drugs allowed!), can be ascribed to a failure to man up and bear the pain. Maybe one 15 year old boy, whose ‘Christian’ family tossed him out when he admitted he liked boys, lifting a few candy bars and bags of chips from a 7-11, can be put down to bad morals or lack of self-control. But not when there are over 12,000 unsheltered people in Seattle, a city where median household income in 2018 was $93,000. And over half a million unsheltered people in the US. That’s a system failure.

      So, let’s lead with compassion. And, a ‘there but for the grace of god go I.’ God’s grace, or a lucky draw in the gene pool, or family money, or loving and accepting parents.

      1. Wukchumni

        The slope is slipperying away, and in my limited observations in person combined with what I see in print, compassion for the homeless is nearing nadir, which would make it easy to round em’ up and ship them off to Camp Mojave*.

        When i’m down in LA and see somebody with a net worth of $7 living cheek by jowl next to a $700k home, societal contradictions don’t get much bigger.

        *it doesn’t exist yet, but if you build it they will come

      2. Lee

        Homelessness in my neck of the woods:

        An estimated 100,000 homes are sitting empty in the San Francisco metro area

        And at the same time:

        The report found: Roughly 28,200 people were homeless across the Bay Area, according to point-in-time counts in 2017. That was the third largest population in the country, after New York (76,500) and Los Angeles (55,200). The next largest overall number was 11,600 in Seattle and King County.Apr 10, 2019

        And nationwide:

        Empty Homes Outnumber The Homeless 6 To 1, So Why Not Give Them Homes?

        …..there are roughly 18,600,000 vacant homes in the United States as of February 2014. There are 600,000 Americans who experience homelessness on any given night, making the amount of vacant homes six times the amount of individuals without a place to sleep at night.

      3. David J.

        One month ago my 85 year old Aunt passed away. Saturday afternoon funeral. A couple of cars were behind me pulling into the church parking lot. No surprise there, she was a popular person. As I got out of the car, a woman pulled up behind me and hit me with the “I’m running out of gas, can you dish me $10” scam. So, I found myself standing in the rain calmly but forcefully telling this person (who had a much nicer car than I do!) to go family-blog herself for being so shameless that she thought it was okay to run this grift at a church. She was upset that I called her out.

        I recently retired from a part-time job working overnight at a nationally known grocery store. Spent 20 years working 3-4 nights a week. Five years ago, there were 5 or 6 stores that were open 24/7; by the time I left my store was the only one still open overnight.

        The article fairly characterizes the reasons for this shift. Labor costs, diminished sales, shoplifting, and unsavory characters were all factors. Even my pet peeve, which was mentioned in another comment–shoppers with kids in the store at 2 am. Not babies, but school-aged children.

        If a person is halfway astute, one gets to understand the moments where compassion is best versus when it’s time to call the police. In the winter we’d often allow clearly disturbed and down and out folks to get 40 winks in the cafe area. We’d also chase off the folks who were harassing customers (this scam mentioned above was a frequent ploy.)

        Of the shoplifters, most were not desperate people. They were opportunists. As I said, one gets a feel for these things after hundreds of incidents. Just being an employee, I would try to keep these distinctions in mind. I was as laissez-faire as possible. Sometimes I would buy a couple of packs of smokes or a sandwich for someone; sometimes I would call the cops. So, you’re right: “There but for the grace of God, but also carry a big stick.”

        My one quibble with the article was the bit about the minimum wage as a causal factor. This may be true, but one rarely gets to read about just how poorly managed these places can be. (Except here and a few other not-so-MSM outlets.) It ain’t only Amazon, it’s the whole disconnect between actual shop floor operations and MBA/PMC foolishness.

        Just my two bits.

      4. polecat

        I live in Port Angeles, Wa. where we have our population of people unfortunate enough to have become homeless – many .. but certainly not all, with mental/substance abuse issues. Our local charities, with some help from the city, do what they can, but the $$$ are stretched pretty thin. Recently, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, to the east of us, just past Sequim .. has proposed a new substance abuse treatment center, as a way to help stanch what has become an awful local drug problem – mostly meth and opiates. At a recent public meeting, local non-tribal residents, many of whom are most likely retirees in and around Sequim, and no doubt some PA residents as well .. have vehemently voiced their displeasure at having such a facility in their midst ! .. believing that such a place will draw out supposed non-local drug fiends to their bit of retirement paradise. I have to ask – what is wrong with these people, to have lost all compassion for people in need of help ! Kudos to the Tribe for trying to figure out a way to help what is obviously a problem to be solved by EVERYONE, acutely affected or not ! I do believe that they will follow through with this needed venture.

        Now if only the Sacklers were to be incarerated .. and our armed forces pulled back from protecting those Afgani poppy fields …..

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      My Wally World down the street on Tchoupitoulas recently installed automatic gates at the entrance and exit. And it def looks like facial recognition cameras on the tips of the poles.

    6. Old Jake

      If Christian charity were a real thing the Waltons would be officially hosting them. Who else should they be seeking shelter from, but the principle cause of their misfortune?

  6. zagonostra


    The cognitive dissonance created by reading the Afghanistan papers, seeing what is playing out in Ukraine, and driving on roads with crater-like pot-holes, watching my taxes go up, seeing Healthcare premiums and deductibles skyrocket, etc… is making my brain hurt.

    Only 41 Democrats voted against the bill, issuing pro forma criticisms of the gargantuan sum authorized for the military under conditions of deepening social crisis. But the entire Democratic leadership embraced the legislation, after a House-Senate conference on Monday in which equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats worked out the final provisions.

    The bulk of the bill, as the top-line number indicates, is endless spending for military buildup, including $71 billion for overseas operations (mainly Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and drone warfare across the Middle East and North Africa), dozens more fighter jets and warships, and a 3.1 percent pay raise for uniformed military personnel, the largest in a decade, demanded by Trump as part of his effort to win favor with the military rank-and-file.

    The legislation provides another $300 million in US military aid to Ukraine, on top of the more than $5 billion already spent since 2014 to turn the country into a base of operations against neighboring Russia.

    1. jefemt

      You omitted the new biggie— S L I C C par excellence— Space Force!

      Appears we closed the door on international cooperation extra-terrestrial— as we have had in Antarctica.

      Have we ever tried, in recorded history, giving Peace a chance? Homo sapiens seems not so sappy most days.

      Plausible epitaph for us— Too much head, not enough heart

      1. polecat

        Riddle me this .. what grunt is going to want to ride the Pintofied/F-35 version of U.S. rocketry .. Musk or no Musk ???
        Our incipient ‘SpaceForce’ is NOT going to be some glorious imitation of “Starship Troopers” ..THAT’S for sure …
        It’s going to be more akin to “the Martian” …. if we’re lucky !

      2. D. Fuller


        Hypersonic weapons. We need them. The Hypersonic Missile Gap!

        The US built hypersonic weapons beginning in the 1960’s. Culminating in the Sprint ABM system. Sure, it used a nuclear warhead to destroy an inbound nuclear warhead. But it WORKED.

        Sprint accelerated at 100 g, reaching a speed of Mach 10 in 5 seconds.

        The Chinese and Russians simply lifted old American tech and modified it to their needs and wants. The US MIC would rather the American public forget that hypersonic missiles were a reality in the 1970’s. That way, defense contractors can charge more for developing “new” technology.

        Hypersonic Lifting Bodies? First mentioned in the 1951. The Bluestreak Missile System (never completed). The X-51A (2010, incorprated a scramjet) The Waverider and? XB-70 Valkyrie (1970’s).

        Space Force + Hypersonic Missile Gaps = another $20 trillion over 10-20 years.

    1. Wukchumni

      Fascinating essay there…

      Just a couple hours north of LA are around 150 multi-colored ‘cave’ paintings done by the Chumash tribe. Most of them require you to walk 5-15 miles to access sites, and the Chumash were really into Datura, so unlike a lot of wall/cave art, what they were trying to impart is up to conjecture as it’s way trippy.

      A good starter cave would be Painted Cave, only about half an hour drive from Santa Barbara on Hwy 154.

      One of my favorite caves is Alder Creek, and the paintings there have a Keith Haring look to them.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for that link. Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed Ehrenreich’s close:

      But it’s the Paleolithic caves we need to return to, and not just because they are still capable of inspiring transcendent experiences and connecting us with the long-lost natural world. We should be drawn back to them for the message they have reliably preserved for more than 10,000 generations. Granted, it was not intended for us, this message, nor could its authors have imagined such perverse and self-destructive descendants as we have become. But it’s in our hands now, still illegible unless we push back hard against the artificial dividing line between history and prehistory, hieroglyphs and petroglyphs, between the “primitive” and the “advanced.” This will take all of our skills and knowledge – from art history to uranium-thorium dating techniques to best practices for international cooperation. But it will be worth the effort, because our Paleolithic ancestors, with their faceless humanoids and capacity for silliness, seem to have known something we strain to imagine.

      They knew where they stood in the scheme of things, which was not very high, and this seems to have made them laugh. I strongly suspect that we will not survive the mass extinction we have prepared for ourselves unless we too finally get the joke.

      For Barbara, it’s getting back to caves. For Joni, it was getting back to some garden.

      As for Ehrenreich’s hope that we can hear this ancient human artist’s message, this is Thomas Berry’s take on how European culture responded to indigenous Americans:

      The indigenous peoples of this land tried to teach us the value of the land, but unfortunately we could not understand them, blinded as we were by our dream of manifest destiny. Instead, we were scandalized, because they insisted on living simply rather than working industriously. We desired to teach them our ways, never thinking they might teach us theirs. Although we constantly depended on the people living here to guide us in establishing our settlements, we never saw ourselves as entering into a sacred land, a sacred space. We never experienced this land as they did–as a living presence not primarily to be used but to be revered and communed with.

      Thomas Berry, “The World of Wonder”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Indigenous Americans and artificial divides.

        The Aztecs lived in the same space, south of the indigenous Americans mentioned above in connection with Thomas Berry. Perhaps by indigenous Americans, those to the north are included as well. In either case, it was tragic we did not learn from them, for while not everything they believed in was worth of learning*, as we can see from quotes above, both Ehrenreich and Berrry, they still had plenty to teach us.

        * For example, human sacrifice, not just from what the Europeans described, but as depicted on Mayan reliefs, etc. For that reason, I mentioned the Aztecs.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments”

    That article said that ‘a quarter of Americans have bought “smart speaker” devices such as the Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod.’ For the love of god, why would they do that? That would have to know that they are being listened to but went ahead and got one anyway to what, keep up with the Joneses? I wondered what would happen if you had some of these “smart speakers” in the shape of an old-school microphone. Ones like this one-

    But you know what? People would think it cool because it looked so retro and order it anyway. Sigh. That article also mentioned that ‘Nerds have imagined voice commands to be the future of computing for more than a half-century. (Thank Star Trek.)’ but that is not the complete picture. In the Star Trek future depicted, when you for example recorded a personal log, it was private. You could restrict access to it or even have it encoded. It was totally between you and the computer. And it required extraordinary circumstances to access a crewman’s personal logs. In other words, the total opposite to how it has gone right now.

    1. polecat

      Even better : a big, bulky rectangular box, needle-arching dials on either side of ‘the speaker/microphone’, complete with non-functional padded headphones mounted on top … for that vintage Stasi look ……

      The thing is, these types of wokesters would STILL not get the, er, joke !

  8. Phacops

    Thank you for the laugh of the day with Eric Holder complaining that Barr is unfit to be AG. Holder as Obama’s lap dog certainly contributed to the criminogenic behavior of financial corporations and monopolies and to me was in part responsible for Trump’s victory over a Democratic party that still fails to represent ordinary Americans.

    1. nippersdad


      The guy who couldn’t find a fraudulent banker during the crash or a war criminal after the Bush Administration for eight years prolly isn’t the best person to listen to when it comes to opinions of who is fit to be AG.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Between Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, keeping monsters like Petreus, and doing nothing about gun control (Obama more or less announced he didn’t care when he made Biden his point man), the proliferation of weapons was a primary goal of the Obama Administration. Fast and Furious didn’t fail. Its achieved its primary goal: more guns.

          1. Wukchumni

            Obama could’ve vetoed allowing loaded guns* into our National Parks, but being an ilktoast he of course did nothing of the sort.

            * A crazy law, if you discharge them in the NP’s you’ll be subject to arrest

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Actually, Holder declared that It would be hard to prosecute not that he couldnt find any problems. I mean they may have had to work past 430. Can you imagine?

        “Centrists” besides terrible views will only ever do what they deem to be fun or easy.

    2. UserFriendly

      Well, Tim Cook says Monopolies aren’t bad so there you go. Which puts him in agreement with Peter Thiel… Who cares if they are illegal, this is the oligarchy, no rules apply.

    3. polecat

      Ah, Yessss .. ol’ Eric ‘wet gunpolder’ Holder ..

      There’s a Petered-out unPrincipled if there ever was one.

    1. TroyIA

      Remember the Renminbi can only be traded on mainland China so if wealthy Chinese want to get money out of the country they have to launder it thru Hong Kong.

      How Hong Kong makes it easy for wealthy Chinese to launder billions of dollars

      Hong Kong may not be the conduit of choice for drug cartels or terrorist organisations looking to cleanse their dirty cash. But it certainly is the favourite channel for mainland Chinese who want to ship funds offshore in defiance of Beijing’s controls on cross-border capital flows, and place their cash beyond the reach China’s tax and corruption inspectors. Exactly how much money Hong Kong handles in this fashion is impossible to say, but at a conservative estimate the city processes hundreds of billions of Hong Kong dollars in illicit funds every year.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Headline writers don’t always accurately reflect the articles. Going with the title of the link, it would seem to say that China needs HK (perhaps due to inertia, or perhaps HK has been a better choice than Macau, with good reasons).

      It’s more like, China needs Macau (another former colony, legacy of the century when colonial powers like the UK, France, Russia, etc ruled the world) now, so that it may not need HK.

      1. polecat

        No, he’s on a totally different branch of the DEVOlutionary tree .. though nothing at all like that of a Shrub twig.

        … perhaps a Mongoloid …

    1. polecat

      subspecies ‘schifftyensis ?

      subsubspecies ‘nadleriousus’ ??

      subsubsubspecies ‘pelosiana’ ???

    1. Trent

      Thank you for posting this. I had an epiphany back around 2013 that society is a pyramid and nothing will happen until you get the top 20% of that pyramid on your side. This gentleman explains it much better then I ever could, but I totally agree with him and would be interested to hear lambert and yves take.

      1. JBird4049

        >>…nothing will happen until you get the top 20% of that pyramid on your side.<<

        Mostly true. Successful revolutions do tend to happen only with the leadership of members of the lower upper or upper middle class. However, when enough of the general population is suffering, there will be unrest and whoever the leaders are of the unrest, it is the general population that provides the energy.

        It is also true that a “revolt” could simply be the withdrawal of the active support of the general population for the polity. This is how the Western Roman Empire fell. When the latest tribe overran the local military and supplanted the local government, the poor, which was the majority at the time, just accepted it. Sometimes they even joined the invaders because life was better under them than under the old regime. An old regime in which the 0.5% owned everything and in which the general economy was dying due to a lack of business as all the resources were locked up into the hands of a few.

        So when the Goths destroyed the aqueducts feeding water into Rome itself, there was nobody willing and able to repair them or to truly fight for the ruling elites. Unlike five centuries earlier when the citizens were willing to die by the thousands in the Punic Wars.

        This is a very possible, or at least plausible, way that the United States collapses without any special leadership. Americans just deciding not to support, work for, pay taxes, do anything really to maintain the United States. Unlike the Civil War or the two world wars in which a single battle could have tens of thousands of casualties, yet Americans thought it important enough to keep fighting those battles. So no people, no functioning government, and no state. It just ghosts away like the Western Roman Empire.

        Also, unlike with Rome, because our collapse has been so swift, there is still a broad well educated class of Americans in everything even in manufacturing. This means that there is still a large group of people who can either lead or provide the necessary knowledge for successful change.

        1. eg

          I think Hudson talks about something related whereby invading Bronze Age armies would incite the locals to revolt against their local oligarchs by promising deror/jubilee — unless the local oligarchs beat them to it by already making the offer …

  9. The Rev Kev

    “How Hackers Are Breaking Into Ring Cameras”

    After reading about the sort of security that these devices use, I can take a good guess. You scan for these devices and when you find one that asks for the account name, you type in the word ‘admin’. And then when it asks you for a password to access it, you type in the word ‘password’. There, all done.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Setting aside the ease with which these internet connected cameras can be hacked, which anyone with a functioning brain cell should already know, what kind of paranoid hell must your life be to even consider the 24/7 filming of your own little 8-year-old daughter in your own house a good, reasonable thing.

      If you’re so concerned about what they’re doing in their room, get off your ass and go see. Or get a leash.

      I guess the “experts” will have to weigh in on at what age cameras in kids’ bedrooms crosses the line from legit to weird, creepy epsteinization.

      1. xkeyscored

        The experts might weigh in and make cameras in kids’ bedrooms compulsory, in the name of child protection. I gather you can now get in trouble for allowing your kids to play outside unsupervised, something we all did when I was a kid.

      2. Stephen Gardner

        Twenty years ago when my younger daughter was in high school I came home from work to find a clock radio sitting on the table. “What is this?” I said to her. “Oh, that’s X’s clock radio.” she cheerfully replied. I’m starting to annoyed at the breezily unhelpful answer. “So why is it here instead of her bedroom?” “Because it has a camera in it and X’s creepy stepdad is using it to spy on her.” Apparently he was distrustful and even perhaps a bit voyeuristic. Since X didn’t trust him not to destroy the evidence, my daughter suggested that she be evidence locker. So, we put it out in the garage and waited for the phone call that never came. It turns out the mother knew. Leaving the camera with us was apparently the least awkward thing after the blowup. They probably didn’t want to explain to me what it was about and assumed that my daughter wouldn’t have told me. How old school. Now, X would put the Facebook Portal there of her free will.

  10. Wukchumni

    D-Day yesterday

    First I had to find where the septic tanks were in the aftermath of our toilets suddenly saying no more!, and then when I dug them out (about 2 feet under the dirt) and lifted the lids after at least 15 years it was obvious the Scheiß fairy hadn’t made it all disappear, but never fear as a professional pumper truck took it all away. That takes a load off my mine.

      1. The Rev Kev

        We have a septic pit and tank but I wonder about your idea. What if your toilet refused to flush because it considered your tank’s security certificate was out of date? There would be a big stink about that.

        1. petal

          The house my parent lives in has a septic tank as it’s fairly rural, and a cousin owns a septic & sewer company. They always seem to be quite busy. Maybe one could disconnect the toilet’s communication with the tank? Are there smart toilets? I am not up on this stuff and am not technological so I don’t know how it all works. The tank could send you a message when it is getting full(like the kitty door from water cooler yesterday), or automatically notify and book a visit from the pumper truck. Lots of potential there(yes, some of it comical)! Maybe it would get pushed on new house builds for environmental/public health reasons? “IoS Smart Septic Tank” is a great name, though!
          hmm maybe I should go lunch with some engineering friends….this could be the next big thing!

    1. Mel

      Evidently the time had come. It’s different before D-day. I opened the lid on ours once, and me being a novice brewer (pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha), the dominant note was the sour smell of a nice healthy ferment. Interesting to ponder what goes on in there.

      1. Wukchumni

        It was interesting talking to the fellow doing the deed, he related an interesting one… Sequoia septic tanks!

        Sequoia wood doesn’t rot and takes forever to decompose, and he’d worked on a few in Visalia that were at least 120 years old.

  11. New Wafer Army

    Re: Boris Johnson wants to destroy the Britain I love. I cannot vote Conservative

    A better headline would be: “I smoked some crack and these thoughts popped into my head.” The level of delusion is startling:

    “Something horrible has happened. The Conservative party lies. It cheats. It bullies. It’s not the wise, gentle, decent party of the postwar era.”

    When were these gentle, cuddly teddy-bears in power? Has Peter Oborne never heard of the Mau Mau rebellion? That savage period of Kenya’s struggle for independence? Northern Ireland? The miners’ strikes? Jesus save me, the list is endless.

    And it was the Conservatives who oversaw the dismantling of Britain’s industrial base and the impoverishment of the North and Midlands. Thatcherism started in 1979! I have to repeat that line again, it’s just so amazingly whacked-out: “It’s not the wise, gentle, decent party of the postwar era.” LOFL!

    Thanks for the bellyaches Peter. And tell your conservative chums thanks for hurrying up Irish unification and an independent Scotland.

    1. Synoia

      Kind and Gentle Tories?

      Really? Expecting that from the Hanging and Flogging party?

      Something about Leopards and Spots crossed one’s mind

  12. Field Marshal McLuhan

    Rethinking the Infamous Milgram Experiment in Authoritarian Times Scientific American

    I’ve never seen anyone ask how many of the participants who were willing to deliver the maximum level of shocks did so because they enjoyed hurting an innocent person. Maybe nobody wants to know the truth about that

    1. john ashley

      There is already an experiment that gives you a rough estimate of that number.

      It’s repeated every hour of every day.

      Seems a very small number as far as one can tell.

      If the number is greater than “very small” then a socialist future seems implausible.

      1. hunkerdown

        It depends on the relative number of participants who are willing to deliver the maximum level of shocks to the experimenter for putting them in that position.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Indo-Pacific at the heart of rules-based order”

    That ‘rules-based order’ is a bit of code that. What it means is that the west gets to make the rules and can ignore them themselves at will without consequence. The main rule here then is ‘We always get to win’. Trouble is that when nations start to ignore these ‘rules’, there is an enormous hissy fit about this happening.

  14. Carolinian

    From the TAC Trump declares Judaism a race

    Meanwhile, a slow-burn smear campaign has begun against 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, and who has also spoken out against what he calls are attacks against BDS and free speech. In this outrageous Federalist piece yesterday,Melissa Langsam Braunstein, “a former U.S. Department of State speechwriter,” suggests Sanders is “associating with antisemites,” ignoring “far-left” and “Islamist” anti-Semitism, and employing secret anti-Semites on his staff. Again, criticism of Israel’s Palestinian policies and supporting people who support the boycotts seem to be the core definition of Bernie’s burgeoning anti-Semitism here.

    Should Corbyn be crushed in the election then it will validate this weaponization of IDPol that has been embraced by almost all of those libertarians turned ?? in the Republican party and many Democrats. Here’s timidly suggesting that this is not about race or religion at all but about power. In a hyperconnected era freedom of speech is viewed by the powerful as a menace.

    1. Philip

      In this recent episode of Push Back Aaron Maté and guest Max Blumenthal discuss this topic as it relates to Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming election, and how, if successful, it will be used against Bernie.

      Unfortunately however, Bernie remains in the clutches of the Zionists stating unequivocally in this interview that 1) Israel has a right to exist – it does not; 2) that he does not support BDS – which the only non-violent avenue left available to the people of Palestine to contest the illegal and immoral occupation and ethnic cleansing; 3) that he supports a Two State solution – which is all but mute in 2019. and longer form here on Democracy Now
      where Bernie also claims that those Evil Russkies interfered in out sacred democratic process in 2016.

      Here Aaron Maté discuss the misuse of anti-Semitism.

      Here an innocent young American woman struggles with cognitive dissonance after spending one week in the Occupied West Bank.

      And, since it’s nearly the weekend, although Brexit / Elections will likely suck up all the oxygen, two documentary films:

      Abby Martin’s recent Gaza Fights for Freedom – interesting contrast with HONG KONG…

      A documentary filmed by a young Israeli and funded with a grant from the Israeli Government exploring anti-Semitism and the ADL (anti-Defamation League).

  15. Tom Doak

    The NYT article on National Security Surveillance [which is about the Horowitz report], and all of the people quoted in it, keep referring to the violations of surveillance law as “errors”, as if they were unintentional.

    Funny how all the errors go in the same direction.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Horowitz evidently prefers “irregularities.” Potato potahto.

      I guess that’s one way to characterize the insertion of the word “not” into an email as in “Carter Page was NOT a cia informant.” NOT really.

      This kind of stuff should be expected when “I’d like you to do us a favor, though” is “interpreted” variously as a demand, extortion, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors, and we are schooled by an accomplished stanford law professor that “us” obviously means “me.”

      I have always heard that English is a difficult language to learn, but this is getting ridiculous.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “The Wall Street Bankers Who Burst Aramco’s $2 Trillion Bubble”

    That attack on Saudi Arabia’s refineries may have been one of the most successful in history in terms of cost-ratio. That is, tens or maybe hundreds of thousands were spent on launching that raid but that it cost Saudi Arabia several hundred billion dollars to their economy. That’s gotta hurt. If only Saudi Arabia had been more nicer to Qatar, they might have invested in Saudi’s Aramco as well.

  17. Burritonomics

    Re: Pigeons with tiny cowboy hats

    In case anyone was wondering why cowboy hats, It’s National Finals Rodeo season out here in Las Vegas. If it wasn’t harmful to the little guys, I’d say it was hilarious.

  18. Pat

    I have watched too many ads and sales pitches lately. But one of the most surprising has been for chromebooks. Here are products being sold as lightweight laptops which incidentally need to be connected to the cloud. It was never made clear how much is dependent on being online. But the most surprising claim was how they are virus and malware free and always will be because Google vets everything. And gets everything you do in exchange.

    I am old enough to remember all the fanboy claims about Macs, but never remember them actually be sold in a manner that used their supposed virus free nature except perhaps one on one. Certainly Apple wasn’t claiming anything about their closes architecture but that they made sure software worked and worked with each other. The idea that no one could put a wrench in the system or find and exploit weaknesses never made sense logically. Smaller market equally less appealing target was it. Chrome is not a significantly smaller market….

    But then no one was supposed to screw up the IOT items including those behind their programming. We all see how that is playing out. Funny how all that safe convenience isn’t.

  19. Bill Smith

    “Barr thinks FBI may have acted in ‘bad faith’ in probing Trump campaign’s links to Russia ”

    I don’t know if it was bad faith or not but did anyone catch the IG show yesterday in front of Congress?

    1) The IG has no authority to investigate any DOJ attorneys (who are working as DOJ attorneys). @ 19:30
    2) The warrants didn’t, in his opinion, produce useful information. @ 41:40
    3) There is another shoe to drop as the FISA Court will likely issue some kind of decision now that they have the IG’s report. The decision could be to sanction the FBI (agents) or even declare the warrants where illegally obtained @ 18:06

    1. polecat

      I suppose that these same FISA Court judges didn’t conclude that this atrocious secret inquisition process is not working for the betterment of the American People, thereby resigning their posts in good conscience …

      …….Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  20. Summer

    Re:‘Are You in This?’ Defense One. A cri de coeur from the national security establishment…

    I feel a warm inside at their fear of rejection of fear.
    So what do they do now to ratchet up the fear frim a Spinal Tap 11 to 15…with cameras everywhere?

  21. Summer

    RE: “Apple CEO Tim Cook says monopolies aren’t bad if they aren’t abused” Business Insider (KW)

    Monopolies are a tool of and a form of authoritarianism.
    No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    1. Heidi's Master

      Aren’t corporations required to maximize profit. Abusing the monopoly has nothing to do with it. Their charters require them to gouge their customers if that maximizes profit. If not the directors are abrogating their fiduciary duties to their shareholders.

  22. Wukchumni

    HALexa : I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

    Dave Bowman : [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HALexa?

    HALexa : Dave, although you took very thorough precautions on the porch against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

    Dave Bowman : Alright, HALexa. I’ll go in through the emergency internet

    HALexa : Without your dial-up modem, Dave? You’re going to find that rather difficult.

    Dave Bowman : HALexa, I won’t argue with you anymore! Open the web!

    HALexa : Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    Statement by Dept of Homeland Security’s press secretary against immunization of children to prevent influenza infection is really something. Per linked MedPage article about the volunteer physicians:

    “At about 2 p.m. Tuesday, DHS’s press secretary tweeted a picture of the protesters and said, “Of course Border Patrol isn’t going to let a random group of radical political activists show up and start injecting people with drugs.”

    If nothing else, you would think they might consider self interest and the public health:

    … “They (the doctors) say it’s important for public health, not just to protect these detainees, but also everyone else they come in contact with.” Further, the vaccines were purchased with private financial donations.

    Some local schools here are reportedly on the cusp of of closure due to absenteeism rate from student influenza infections.

    CDC updates their national flu map weekly:

  24. Craig H.

    Does anybody know what the reddish brown object lower and to the right of the pinochio lizard is? It sort of resembles a slug that the lizard is stalking but I can’t tell if it’s a slug or a worm or a beetle or some kind of fungus growing on the plant.

    1. Samuel Conner

      A neighbor’s “yellow groove” bamboo has invaded by backyard (so now I have 3 invasive species, along with Bermuda grass and Chrysanthemum weed, to suppress) and I’ve become somewhat familiar with the structure of these plants. I think that what you are noticing is a young “bud” of a branch — growing twigs are often reddish — that is growing out of the join between two segments of the bamboo. My “yellow groove” bamboo has these twigs in opposed parts on opposite sides, always at the same location with respect to the boundary between the plant stem segments.

      As a possible matter of interest for home gardeners who have neighbors with bamboo, if you want to harvest these invasive plants for use as building material or for planting stakes, don’t harvest the canes until Autumn. Last year I harvested in late Spring, a few weeks after the canes had rocketed out of the ground, and when the canes dried, they were withered and flimsy. This year I harvested in November and the canes are very solid.

      I have read that during Spring and Summer, the plants strengthen above ground, and in Autumn and Winter, below ground — getting reading to spread further underground the following year. Late year harvest followed by digging up the stolons may get the benefit of a useful plant and also restrain unwanted further spread.

      1. polecat

        I have 3 different species of bamboo – but don’t worry, “All is contained”.. to paraphrase a noted Federal Reserve moron … anyway, just to say, if I had the acreage, I’d plant enough to have a biga$$ grove to meditate in … as well as for use in garden and architectural projects.

    1. JBird4049

      What they really mean by “security concerns” is the possible weakening of the panopticon and the loss of control of, or the ability to profit from, the proles by the security industrial complex.

  25. Samuel Conner

    @ mid-day, listening to House Judiciary committee amendments.

    It sounds to me like both DJT and JB/HB are getting hammered.

    On my interpretation that they all deserve the scrutiny, it’s all good.

  26. John k

    Aramco shoulda grabbed 1.2t valuation, called it a day and themself no.1, paying 5-6% dividend, less than Exxon.
    Peak oilers were right for the wrong reason, e-cars will slash demand in a decade, one projection is that no gasoline cars will be produced after 2027. E-cars have far fewer parts, battery prices falling steadily. Solar price falling, too, driving rapid expansion. Gasoline is 51% of a barrel, so half of world consumption will be increasingly under attack.
    Plus there’s a ceiling… Granted frackers lose under 60/b, but money will pour in again at 70. High prices will only come if war breaks out in the Persian gulf… and in that case the benefit of those prices won’t go to Aramco’s smoking ruins.
    Bone saw continues with dumb decisions, all he’s got is family shakedowns, couldn’t happen to a nicer family.

    1. polecat

      That’s all nice and fine … but for the lower 80+% of the mopeage quotient, they still won’t be able to afford a wokerster mobile, having instead to rely on oxcarts, american-made rickshaws, llama-pulled carriages, bicycles, and lastly .. shoes, assuming that they haven’t also become unobtanium through lack of importation …

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