Links 12/15/19

Where Christmas trees come from WaPo

Revenge? Military Industrial Complex Sponsors Eisenhower Ornament American Conservative

Your chronic pain could be making your office a lot more toxic Scroll

Bangladesh Liberation War: Recalling December 15, 1971 – the day before Pakistan surrendered Scroll

Updated USGS Model Puts East And South Bay In Jeopardy Of Catastrophic Quake SFist (david l)

China?

Cruising Pamir Highway, the heart of the Heartland Asia Times. Pepe Escobar. Part two; see part one of the series here.

China’s Dangerous Chokehold On Our Medicines American Conservative

Lebanon

Lebanon crisis: Dozens hurt as police and protesters clash in Beirut BBC

Turkey

Turkey says S-400 system ‘vital’, will retaliate any US sanctions Al Jazeera

Sabra and Chatila taught me all massacres become ‘alleged massacres’ if we don’t pay attention Independent. Robert Fisk.

Algeria stands at a historic crossroads Qantara

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir convicted of corruption FT

India

Citizenship Act: Violent Protests Rock West Bengal, Mamata Appeals for Calm The Wire

Protests rage as US, UK warn on travel to northeast India  Agence Fance-Presse

The Rape of India’s Soul Proect Syndicate Jayati Ghosh

Far from U.S. epidemic, ‘the other opioid crisis’ rages in vulnerable countries LA Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

We Have Just Been Handed the Pentagon Papers of Our Generation The Nation. Maj. Danny Sjursen. As it happens, during a recent long-haul flight, I just caught up w/ Spielberg’s The Post – about the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Washington Post’s Afghanistan Story Reveals Core Folly of American Defense Strategy Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi.

Lying by Bush and Obama over Afghanistan is this era’s Pentagon Papers NY Post

Evo Morales granted refugee status in Argentina Al Jazeera. Glenn Greenwald promises an interview w/ Morales in Monday’s Intercept; will link if it’s available at the time of posting Monday’s links.

La debilidad del Presidente: Familia Piñera Morel sacó fuera del país más de US$500 millones con destino a Paraísos Fiscales  El Mostrador (timotheus)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

‘I Slept With My Gun’: What It’s Like to Get Your Ring Camera Hacked Gizmodo

Feds reap data from 1,500 phones in largest reported reverse-location warrant Ars Technica

Waste Watch

New York bottle bill expansion could boost glass container recycling by 65%: study Waste Dive

Utility Executives Kept Flint’s Tainted Water a Secret Wired

Brexit (and Election Post Mortem)

Johnson is the luckiest politician alive – reading about worse historical crises has been my solace in recent weeks Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

The Strange Death of Social-Democratic England New York Review of Books

“Anyone to my left is an antisemite” Immigrants as a Weapon

Trump Transition

I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it Guardian

Impeachment

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, anti-impeachment Democrat, expected to switch parties after Trump meeting WaPo (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

How to Avoid Amazon This Holiday Season Truthout

Progressives Blast New NLRB Union Elections Rule That ‘Betrays the Workers It Is Meant to Protect’ Common Dreams

The progressive prosecutor movement is great — but without funding public defenders it won’t work Salon

2020

Warren and Sanders Lead 2020 Candidates in Backing Workers Demanding Fair Wages, Vowing Not to Cross Picket Line for Debate Common Dreams

Jill Biden: Trump is ‘afraid’ to go against my husband The Hill

Joe Biden told a protestor at his Texas campaign rally that he’s ‘just like Donald Trump’ for asking about corruption in Ukraine Business Insider

2020 Democrats Think Attacking Bernie Sanders Is ‘Not Smart Strategy’ WSJ

DNC balks at effort to alter debate qualifications Politico

Why Presidential Candidates Don’t Address Urban Issues Governing

For WaPo’s Centrist Sources, Progressive Politics Are ‘Purity Tests’ Fair

Buttigieg and McKinsey The Nation

How McKinsey Makes Its Own Rules ProPublica

Realignment and Legitimacy

Precinct closures harm voter turnout in Georgia, AJC analysis finds Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the piece that directed me to the AJC study, Georgia Is Really Good at Making It Hard for Black People to Vote, Study Finds New York magazine; not sure the AJC site is accessible to some of our non-US-based readers.

Sanders ‘outraged’ after MLB threatens to cut ties with minor league teams The Hill

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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232 comments

    1. richard

      what a populist he is! Like most ‘mericans, I never tire of rich, old men wagging their fingers at me when I complain of obvious corruption.

      Reply
        1. polecat

          I was just yesterday wondering about ol’ Thomas Frank, having been put out to pasture as it were, into the wilderness of non-pc elite eastcoast conjecture …

          Reply
          1. polecat

            … and glad to see him re-entering the publishing promised land, continuing to roll through the conceits of neoliberalia, pointing out the discrepancies for the benefit of us lowly mokes !

            Reply
  1. kimyo

    re: New York bottle bill expansion could boost glass container recycling by 65%

    dear governor cuomo: please give us an option to bring our own bottles and fill them at the store. by far, this option would deliver the smallest ‘footprint’. if it can work in france it can work here.

    however, if you’re not going to give us that option, then get busy stopping manufacturers from using lead and cadmium paints on glass containers.

    Heavy Metals in the Glass and Enamels of Consumer Container Bottles

    The glass and enameled decorations of bottles of alcoholic beverages sourced from retailers in the U.K. were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for various heavy metals. In the glass substrate, lead, cadmium, and chromium were present at concentrations up to about 1100, 1100, and 3000 μg g–1, respectively, but their environmental and health risks are deemed to be low significance.

    Given that safer decorative alternatives are available and that a precautionary principle should be adopted for toxic heavy metals, the pervasive use of Pb and Cd in the enamels of consumer bottles is brought into question.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      When I was a kid in the UK years ago, many bottles had a deposit on them. We’d eagerly collect any we could find and hand them in in exchange for the deposits.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We were one of the first subdivisions and I grew up with homes being built all around us, and learned at a tender age how much some construction workers drank, and beer bottles were worth diddily squat, but if you hit a soda drinking house under construction, you might glean 2 bits in bottles, whee doggies.

        I was always into arbitrage, and at a tender age noticed that Mexican soda bottles (exactly the same bottle aside from language) had no deposit there and they were worth 3 Cents here, and made half a buck per trip to Tijuana, bringing back my haul.

        Nowadays people in the USA pay premium prices for those bottles of Mexican soda that look just like the ones I exported in 1971, not for the glass, but for the lack of HFCS.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          It’s interesting that “it’s just so hard!” is said about so many things that were commonplace fifty effing years ago, like returning and reusing glass bottles
          for soda and milk.. I bought my first road bike by collecting soda bottles and
          cans in the late 60s-early 70s, at the beginning of the bike boom. We had milk delivery too, in reused glass bottles… no big thing, at the time.

          “so complex!”

          Reply
      2. Charger01

        Glass is brutal to properly recycle, it is energy intensive to transport, crush, melt, reform into a new product. Prehaps with i incentives it could be used as a construction fill material, such as road bed or inert fill.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          The 12 oz Coca Cola in a glass bottle you bought in 1971 might’ve been recycled & refilled dozens of times before it got a little too haggard looking and it went to the dump.

          It seemed as if only supermarkets took bottles back for deposit, and truth be said, it was unsanitary-the whole experience. Imagine lugging a dozen bottles in, or somebody that didn’t wash out theirs. etc.

          Reply
        2. jsn

          Or older, less energy intensive practices could be rehabilitated.

          Milk used to be delivered directly to homes, fresh in gallon glass jugs that went back to the dairy to be washed and re-used, this in my own memory along with a cousin who has a striking resemblance to the milk man.

          In my mother’s lifetime the delivery cart was horse drawn.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Its years since I’ve seen it, but I once read research that indicated that re-using milk bottles was less efficient than recycling them – milk proteins are very persistent, so extremely high temperature pressured water is needed to wash them out completely.

            Reply
            1. The Historian

              Back in the day when I was first having babies, there were no plastic baby bottles. You just got a big pot, a baby bottle rack, and sterilized them yourself by boiling the bottles. It wasn’t that hard to do and as far as I know, no one had problems with persistent milk proteins.

              Reply
        3. lordkoos

          It is much easier to re-use the bottles, which is what happened with standard soft drink and beer bottles once upon a time.

          In fact this would be pretty easy to do if bottles for various products could become more standardized in size and shape, and it would save a lot of sand.

          Reply
          1. diptherio

            In Missoula, MT, one of our local beer breweries, Bayern, started the “Eco-League,” through with Montana microbreweries all use a standard bottle that Bayern collects, sterilizes and sells to breweries for re-use. The kombucha worker co-op I helped some friends set up in Missoula (Back to the Mother) also use these re-used bottles for their product.

            Reply
        4. jp

          Part of the benefit of recycling is to reduce litter. However it turns out open container laws negate recycling to reduce litter. I live on a rural road. It is a half mile walk to our mail box. The half mile is pretty clean only because we pick up, mostly, aluminum beer cans that have to be jettisoned before hitting the main road or risk legal repercussions. Funny, the fine for littering is $5000 but pales before the threat of open container and possible 502 prosecution.

          If the powers that be would just make kegs of beer available at the end of the road and people would bring their own drinking vessels it would solve the litter and the recycle problem.

          Reply
      3. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I do know that Malta has a deposit on wine bottles, but don’t know whether that extends further to include pop bottles which I also collected as a kid in the 1970’s England.

        I suppose that the introduction of cans, plastic bottles & cartons put an end to that.

        Reply
          1. sleepy

            Same here in Iowa–five cents deposit on every glass or plastic bottle including liquor or wine, plus cans. You can cash them in or they can go in your recycle bin for pickup. We are limited to one free garbage bag per week of non-recyclables. Recyclables are unlimited.

            Reply
          2. HotFlash

            Here in Ontario, too, but that is b/c our liquor stores (LCBO) are govt-run and our Beer Stores (formerly known as Brewers Retail) are a consortium of brewing co’s that operate as contractors for the province, there is a lot of pro-societal clout. Because of that govt ‘interference’, all containers sold at either LCBO or Beer Stores are required to take deposits on the containers. In my ‘hood, the more upscale LCBO does not redeem returned containers, but the Beer Stores give you the 10 or 20 cents on *any* deposit container from any source and so they have the bottle-and-can collectors bringing the grocery carts of empties for refund. Being born in the ‘States, I have the very un-Canadian habit of striking up conversatons with people while standing in line, and have chatted with many interesting people who were returning garbage bags full of cans and carts of wine and beer bottles. For instance, a tiny Vietnamese grandma told me she loved collecting the empties because it meant she could afford fresh fruit.

            I have enquired about glass recycling at my local Beer Store. They told me that in the old days the bottles (all the same, Canadian ‘stubbies‘) were reused, an oldtimer told me, an average of seven times. Nowadays, my local Beer Store has a glass crusher, bottles are sorted by the returner, and brown, clear and green glass are crushed separately and returned (sold? he didn’t know) to our nearby glass companies. Of which, sadly, there are fewer and fewer. Dominion, Consumers, Diamond — all gone now, or at least I can’t find them on line or in person. A local Consumers Glass plant is now repurposed as a movie studio — mere shadows of their former selves.

            Local craft breweries, OTOH, are not required to charge a deposit, and they rarely do. Growlers maybe, but not usually for bottles. An ode to the power of government.

            Back in the day, plastic gallon milk jugs carried a 50 cent deposit — a chunk o’ change back then. Pop (that’s soda to your New Englanders) bottles and cans were exempted here in Ontario due, I have been given to understand, to pressure from the Steelworkers Union and the union glassworkers against returnable containers. Cannot verify this right now, but could be possible, OTOH, owners of Big Steel and Big Glass might prefer non-deposit, too, and it would be harder to find their tracks. I do not recall that ever being mentioned back then.

            Already gone on far too long, but I will add this for Pl’Kun from Grist. Their conclusion: recycling glass does save energy.

            Reply
      4. Oregoncharles

        Yes, reuse is the only real solution. It is, literally, 50s technology – my class visited a bottling plant then. Very impressive.

        If Mexico can use them until they break, surely the US is capable.

        As I learned, “sanitary” rules, enacted on the state level, are one of the chief barriers to reuse of containers, esp. customer-provided containers. They insist on a fake distinction between “re-usable” (damn rare) and “non-reusable” containers, a distinction that serves only the container industry.

        Reply
    2. chuck roast

      One way to start doing the right thing is to regulate the size, color and consistency of wine bottles. Make them returnable, re-washable and reusable. Hit them with a deposit tax that induces collection and storage. Do a “Tobin tax” on any bottles, foreign or domestic that do not meet the standard. Create a niche market where it becomes profitable to set-up regional bottle washing plants.

      NY has wine industry. Such a wine-bottle bill would both support and encourage the industry. A successful recycle/reuse effort would also encourage expansion into other beverages.

      It wasn’t so long ago (the early 70’s) that I could buy quart cases of Ballentine Ale at the packy and schlep the case of empties back for a refund and a fresh case. That little ritual was ruined by the 5-cent deposit law that sent all glass to the landfill. And spare me the sorting, shipping and remanufacturing nonsense.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Anyone who has tried to do the right thing, and reuse glass containers can’t help but be aggrieved by BIG LABEL’s efforts to make it nearly impossible to remove such, in any rationally ‘green’ fashion !! It takes a considerable effort to remove such labeling from an ever-greater variety of commercially labeled bottles/jars !! Many of the adhesives used in labeling .. once the pulpy surface layer is washed/scraped away .. remains. I’ve had some glass bottles ‘adhere’ in a firm spiderman-like grip.. to the palm of my hand, the glue itself having lost none of it’s, er, ‘durability’…. I can’t but help conclude that this phenomenon encourages much of the public to not reuse glass containers themselves because of this.

        Reply
        1. scoff

          Most label adhesives can be removed with a little WD40 and some elbow grease. We re-use glass containers as starter vessels for flower cuttings, to hold small screws and such as well as other various uses.

          I love finding alternative uses for things. Just got finished labeling the keys on my spouse’s electronic piano (just learning to play) by using some leftover screen protectors from an old 2G cell phone that no longer worked on our system. A sharpie marker on cut up pieces of the protectors allows identification of the keys without having to make any permanent markings on the keys themselves. Saved a few bucks and made good use of something that was otherwise useless.

          Reply
        2. marieann

          I recently read a little tip for getting labels off that worked for me. Fill the bottle up with boiling water and wait about a minute, the label should peel right off

          Reply
        3. Jeremy Grimm

          I have read that the new adhesives for labels were introduced to cut down on label slippage — a problem with the water based label glues. Like you I get very annoyed at the troubles getting labels off. I’ve tried some of the proposed remedies and the only thing that works is hot soapy water and a lot of elbow grease using a plastic scour applied multiple times. [WD-40 and even the orange oil cleaners — YUK! — nasty shit.]

          I have also read that some European countries have laws against using label adhesives instead of water based glue. The laws were specifically designed to promote re-use and re-cycling efforts.

          Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        One problem with glass recycling after removing labels and cleaning the glass for re-use or use as cullet is the variety of glass formulations and their physical properties. Glass must be sorted by color and type of glass. The glass in bottles and jars can be used for making new bottles and jars. But any window glass or Pyrex glass mixed in the cullet leads to a mix of different coefficients of expansion, different melting temperatures, different viscosities all leading to ‘problems’ with the glass. The curbside collection of glass, especially the so-called single flow, complicates and adds expense to the cleaning and sorting the glass.

        I agree with your ideas to regulate the size color and consistency of wine bottles — but I think your idea needs to be broadened and amplified. There needs to be regulation of all bottles and jars to specify standard sizes, colors, and type of glass including some machine readable sorting label debosed into the glass. Product labeling should be regulated to eliminate labels printed on the glass along with plastic shrink labels and plastic labels, and only water soluble glues should be allowed.

        Reply
  2. skippy

    Jerri-Lynn I just watched the doco drowning in plastic, hard to understand the perspective of those that consider its use in clothing is viable – microplastics emitted in the washing machine,

    Looks like St Carlin was right …

    Reply
            1. Krystyn Walentka

              You think it is stupid because it is deep and mystical. I do not mean that condescendingly. The right wing will like if for the same superficial reason you hate it.

              I cannot explain the deeper truth, say it is something about human arrogance and limited perspective. There is no good or bad in the larger sense of the world. Most people think that will lead to people acting selfish, but those people still think there is good or bad. They are more nihilists. There is a place past nihilism and morality. Try to find it!

              Reply
      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Short answer: yes, because they don’t generate microplastics when laundered. Long answer: it’s complicated, as industrially produced cotton is a very thirsty fibre and requires use of both a lot of water and large quantities of pesticides. But there are ways of reducing those problems.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Microplastics are so far only suspected of causing damage, with very little hard proof (though my guess is we’ll find it now that we’re looking). Meanwhile, cotton is known for a fact to use large amounts of water and pesticides.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            That frozen breakfast burrito might have more than what’s listed on the package.

            Before tossing it into the microwave, check the expiration date.

            Ruiz Food Products is recalling roughly 55,013 pounds of frozen, “not ready-to-eat” breakfast burritos, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) report.

            The products contain eggs, sausage, and cheese that may be contaminated with pieces of plastic, stated USDA officials.

            https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2019/12/15/before-you-heat-up-frozen-ruiz-burrito-read-this/4408628002/

            Reply
          2. skippy

            Watch the doco and then expand your search, birds are worrisome from a hormonal view and now present from the bottom to the top of the food chain in the ocean.

            Reply
        2. Eclair

          Good quality cotton and linen can be repaired and patched. I have old duvet covers that have become soft and comfy over time, but simply fall apart at the top edge. Japanese peasants developed the techniques known as boro and sashiko and turned the necessity of patching into an art form. Of course, unlike our consumer-driven culture, the Japanese have an ethos known as Wabi Sabi, which venerates the old, the worn, the patched, cracked and repaired. My duvet covers (and patched jeans) are not works of art, but the extend the life of clothing and bed linens and make for interesting conversations with strangers (not the bed quilts, the jeans!)

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            I find it symptomatic of our destructive and self-destructive culture that those with patched and repaired clothes are looked down on and denied jobs, while those with wardrobes effectively full of people’s lives and land are admired.
            A worthwhile step towards improving the environment and the lives of those employed in producing clothes would be to give one tenth the amount spent on clothing direct to the oil and agricultural labourers and garment workers who currently have to produce clothes to obtain the wherewithal to survive. One tenth is probably way more than they see from their hours of pointless ugly toil. I know many garment workers who’d be much happier back in their villages, if only there were money to be had there. And the world would be spared the disaster that is the garment industry. Instead, we hear that the fashion industry is ‘going green.’

            Reply
            1. cnchal

              > . . . that those with patched and repaired clothes are looked down on and denied jobs, while those with wardrobes effectively full of people’s lives and land are admired.

              I don’t understand fashion. Why do women wear jeans with precise cuts exposing the knees?

              Do these women expect someone looking at them to believe that being on your hands and knees to wash floors is what caused those exposed areas, indicating a seriousness to be a hard worker or was there another reason for being on your knees long enough to wear holes in them?

              Or are they just showing off their bony knees?

              Reply
              1. HotFlash

                ObjecSHUN! Maybe it’s just my big Cdn city, but the last person I saw in raggedy-knee jeans was (I’m pretty sure) a guy. A counter-example. Make of it what you will.

                Reply
              2. JBird4049

                >>>Or are they just showing off their bony knees?

                They are showing off their class with such “distressed” clothing is usually designer and oh so much more expensive than the undistressed clothing. You denote your class by something the plebs or the peasants cannot have.

                Like the very pale skin of the Blue Bloods who did not work in the fields; the skinny washboard abs of the those who can afford to go the expensive gyms regularly, eat quality food, and get tanned because they can see the sun, but it has to be the right even tan of the true beach creature or the sun tanning saloon; the trendy fast, disposable fashions, white straight teeth, and the trendy eye wear for the none lasik’d are also modern class indicators.

                Also, have you noticed that with the increasing fragility of even the newest, most expensive clothing it is increasingly hard to patch them? Or at least to make long lasting and discrete repairs. The fabric is already too thin and any wear and tear makes it almost impossible to stitch or patch. Even the old iron on patches for jeans are a joke now.

                So the poor have to spend money that they do not have to buy clothes that will not last and is almost impossible to repair, which makes it harder not to become poor. Charming.

                Reply
          2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            Japanese peasants aren’t the only ones to reuse cotton. Bengal has its kantha quilts, and the US (as well as many others), patchwork quilts.

            Reply
            1. Eclair

              Most of the US quilters I know use new fabrics for their quilts. Even the Amish. The ethos of making them from worn-out (beyond even patching or re-fashioning) clothing or bedding has disappeared. The attic in my in-laws’ house revealed piles of quilts made from old clothes. Some, very beautiful, as in tiny rectangles of worn velvets and silks; others functional (and quite ugly, to my eyes) made from old work clothes in blacks, blues and browns, and stuffed with raggedly wool blankets.

              Reply
            2. HotFlash

              I seem to remember Indira Ghandi setting an example by having her saris reprinted when they became faded, an old frugal custom. IIRC there is a name for this practice. . I expect you probably know way more about this than I?

              Reply
      2. anon y'mouse

        yes, because those natural fibers will break down eventually and their elements be recycled and reused somewhere in the ecosystem.

        by that measure alone, even if similar amounts of water are used in production or even greater for the natural fibers, at least the fibers themselves do not become a permanent waste product contaminating the environment.

        Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Updated USGS Model Puts East And South Bay In Jeopardy Of Catastrophic Quake SFist
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Wow, vast areas of essentially quicksand (growing up in the 60’s on tv and in the movies it was cast as a pretty ordinary everyday danger, although i’ve never seen any) swallowing up the outskirts of Silicon Valley almost like the whale & Jonah, maybe the sand spits them out after 3 days?

    There is precedent, the 1868 Hayward quake in the Bay Area ruptured the ground for a distance of 20 miles, and luckily hardly anybody lived there, perhaps because there was no computer industry yet.

    And the Hayward fault is due to do something…

    Earlier earthquakes have been detected by trench exposure and associated radiocarbon dating. Combined with the historic record, the last five major events were in 1315, 1470, 1630, 1725, and 1868, which have intervals of about 140 years (note that 2018 is 150 years from the major 1868 event). The longest time was the 160-year period between 1470 and 1630. In 2028, it will have been 160 years since the 1868 event.

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

    Marc Reisner is best known for Cadillac Desert although his last book he wrote was almost as interesting: A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate, as he examines earthquake potential, and a rerun of the 1868 temblor would wreck the system of levies on the California Delta, introducing sea water into the Bay Area’s delivery capabilities.

    In essence, there’s never been a better time to be an equity refugee, and yeah I know that tired 1964 3/2 SFH worth over a million is home sweet home, but what would it be worth when you turned the faucet on and nothing came out?

    Reply
      1. polecat

        You think that the State, certaintly the affected counties … would’ve learned their lesson, after the Loma Prieta quake, but nooooo, they just kept right on going waaaay past any threshhold of geo-physical sanity.

        But look on the bright side – you too can become enshrined within the geological record, for the amusement of the Next dominant carbon-based lifeform .. through the wonders of liquifaction …
        … well, you and all that Styrafoam.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          And to think that the Marina has always been prime real estate ever since they created it from landfill for the 1915 world’s fair. Don’t worry too much about becoming enshrined for posterity. There is always a chance of being charcoal’d from the fires after the quake.

          Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Revenge? Military Industrial Complex Sponsors Eisenhower Ornament”

    If they want to honour Eisenhower, perhaps they can start paying Eisenhower-era levels of taxation once again. That article mentioned a fire in the West Wing back in 1929 which I had never read about. For those interested, here is an article on that fire-

    https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-christmas-eve-west-wing-fire-of-1929

    That White House has lots of hidden history behind it. By 1948 it was so rotten in parts (structurally) that the who place had to be rebuilt after the entire interior was hollowed out. Check out the images at the bottom of the article below-

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/white-house-mostly-reconstruction-original-180955229/

    Reply
  5. John A

    Re

    I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it

    writes the Guardian the day after the election after spending 3 years attacking Corbyn and Labour for ‘anti-semitism’. Bolting horses and closing the stable door springs to mind. Typical hypocricy from that nowadays pretend liberal rag.

    Reply
  6. Carolinian

    NY Review of Books–going good there for awhile until

    any responsible British politician would want to take care that such initiatives in the cause of peace and dialogue did not cut across official diplomatic channels

    Yes let’s not let silly things like peace and dialogue contradict the “interagency.” The appeal to national security concerns is always the last refuge of the scoundrels who would put down social movements and the author’s notion that devotion to “peace” is misguided and irrelevant is itself the explanation to why the left keeps losing. You can’t pretend that social justice matters here while saying it doesn’t matter in favored national security clients and allies.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Just watching Washington Journal on CSPAN

      Salena Zito (she of the oeuvre “The Great Revolt”) who is, as you might expect, giving us The World Accord to Those in the Deep Red Echo Chamber.

      Nevertheless, Zito made a good coupe of points relevant here.

      The first is, there is (as you alluded to) huge suspicion among the Great Unwashed on whom, exactly, benefits from this marvellous international order and Rules Based System. Certainly it does seem to be ever-ready to suddenly spring into life when, whatever the issue of the day happens to be, be it peace, dialogue, changes to the rules of the system, national security norms, in order to prevent Bad Things (never adequately explained but apparently sufficient to override a democratically elected leader’s decisions and actions) might shake things up a little. Heaven forbid that, rather than a safety-catch, it just, possibly, perhaps, might be a load of inside operators gaming the system to get what they want (or keep what they like).

      The second point Zito made was that political parties change. All the time. Yet for the NYRB, Social Democracy is some strange political piece of fine art. It needs, if it isn’t to deteriorate when exposed to outside air and impurities, to be kept in a glass display case, air conditioned and protected from strong sunlight. Voters in the post-war period were never confronted with a 2016-vintage EU. Or globalisation. Or demographic shifts. Or anything else that requires voters to consider their options anew. But despite those externalities, Social Democracy means what the keepers (and defenders) of the Faith and the Holy Texts of Social Democracy (like the NYRB seems to like to think it is) says it means. Zito remarked that this kind of ideological rigidity is a sure-fire way of sending your party and your political hopes straight into the dumpster.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Yes Social Democracy under glass–like in a museum. Perhaps that is what was really meant by “the end of history.”

        But isn’t Boris going to fall on his face and maybe lead to a better time?

        Curiously some of us have started to see some sense in those corners of conservatism that have also fallen afoul of the global consensus. Seems hard to believe that you have to turn to The American Conservative to find consistent antiwar views. The end of the Soviet Union and the (notional?) socialist challenge that it represented have scrambled left and right ideology or perhaps just enabled them to fuse.

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          It is heartening to see the paleos re-think foreign policy and reconsider how capitalism interacts with the “family values” they cherish–hint folks: it’s been corroding them for centuries.

          I’ve been drawn in enough to take a look at Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option. Early on, as I’m making my way through Dreher’s case that American culture is a lost cause for Christians, I ran across this:

          The Supreme Courts Obergefell decision declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage was the Waterloo of religious conservatism. It was the moment that the Sexual Revolution triumphed decisively, and the culture war as we have known it from the 1960s, came to an end.

          So it’s those damned hippies who’ve made America unlivable for Mr. Dreher? Those powerful hippies were the ones who commercialized sex, ripped families apart with government policies and economic stress and pushed a nihilistic brew of consumerism and radical individualism.

          Mr. Dreher’s preferred form of Christianity was confronted with a choice back in the 60s he detests. People were raising questions about whether our advertiser-managed, materialistic society was healthy for the humans who lived in it and for the natural world. If their eyes hadn’t been closed by money, Evangelical church leaders, alarmed at what they saw as an erosion of morals, might have noticed that Mammonite “faith” was busy corroding any and all values it touched.

          All they could see was free love and men holding hands in a supportive environment, and they ran to make alliance with the Mammonites to crush the dirty hippies. Turned out to be a bad call, huh?

          Even sadder, it’s all they see today, at least most of them.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            The American Conservative was also founded by people like Mr. Dreher as a reaction to the American War Party(s) and its obediance to Neoliberalism’s Money is the True Measure of Everything. Dreher is also an escapee from Catholic Church to an Orthodox one because of the child rape scandals of the Catholic Church. He covered the issue as a reporter for years and did not take the betrayal of the victims and the excuses of the church very well. I think it has colored his views very strongly. One might say that neoliberalism’s decade long destruction of the social fabric, which includes the various relgious ones is a part of it.

            Reply
          2. inode_buddha

            Cross-posting from yesterday’s links:

            “Yep. If you really want to make a right-win-nutjob spit and sputter, point out how their policies have directly caused the social/moral decay they rail against.”

            Reply
    2. skk

      In capturing who, what, how the recent times ( welll, my times – 1973+ ) of the Labour Party, that’s a pretty good article. These lines brought things out well:

      “Nationalization of a LOT of the economy”, “CND”, support for Sinn Fein and similar “bullet AND ballot box” straddling independence-movements, opposition to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and as a US proxy – though nowadays its tail wags the dog, IMO – ( and thus opposing Israel’s supporters who are Zionists who also are usually Jews ) , Euroscepticism since the EU is really a capitalist club.

      And all held with a dogmatism that is so incredibly common in the left circles in the UK. I used to say – Jeez guys, even Sinn Fein shows more flexibility than you.

      Apart from the first two, I’m in alignment with the last three. But at least I knew for a long time that I’m quite out of step with the working class of the UK, which is the local segment of the world’s downtrodden that one is professedly fighting for and I don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of persuading them – unless world shattering events like a War, or massive epidemics or starvation occur and gets people like me heard seriously by the working-class.Though even then , competing explanations will also get a serious hearing.

      I checked out who Matt Seaton, the author is – he is op-ed editor ( how can you have an editor of an op-ed ?) for the NYTimes, and Guardian’s “comment if free” editor.

      That of course is worth keeping in mind as one reads that essay.

      Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      I no longer read the NYRB these days. I occasionally go over there to get a feel for where neo-liberal orthodoxy is going these days–sometimes the party-line changes.

      I had been reading the rag as a subscriber since the early seventies when it featured skeptical, long, quirky essays by masters like Gore Vidal. The quality of writing began to drop in the 90s and orthodoxy, not just about politics set in after 911 and I gradually stopped reading the rag. Sad.

      Reply
  7. mraymondtorres

    >La debilidad del Presidente: Familia Piñera Morel sacó fuera del país más de US$500 millones con destino a Paraísos Fiscales

    ¡Que sorpresa!

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      “>US officials admit fueling corruption in Afghanistan…”

      Are these the same ones who have their hair on fire about Russian interference?

      Reply
      1. jefemt

        PBS Newshour Friday segment with Sheilds and Brooks— Shields mentioned 2/3 of Afghanis have deep psychological issues after 18 years of war. 18 years?

        And I thought (being All Russia-all-the-time…) well, there’s been some wars going on there for a long time… isn’t that the nation-state/geopolitical area where Empires go to Die(tm) ?

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Apathy reigns in the Empire, bet if you gave a Mercator map with all of the countries of the world delineated by border-but with no name, and i’d guess a few percent of Americans can even place Afghanistan correctly.

            It was the perfect war, too far away to care, far enough away to for gouging not to get noticed, a dreamy neo-war that just wanted to keep on keeping on, for KBR’s sake.

            Reply
        1. k

          ……. Shields mentioned 2/3 of Afghanis have deep psychological issues after 18 years of war.

          How could he or anyone possibly know that? Sounds like another one of the bogus “statistics” like “Speed on Afghan roads was up 300 percent!” intended to deflect attention from the sham “war” on the ever-regenerating al-qaeda.

          (And by the way, plenty of people, myself included, would say that with their cultural penchant for pederasty and shooting young girls in the head for the crime of going to school, “psychological issues” are a hallmark of Afghan society.)

          It’s the kind of crap “commentary” you would expect to get from corporate media when faced with the need to at least acknowledge a story of this magnitude without actually reporting on it.

          PS. The Sunday shows are still beating the quid pro quo horse to death. 18 years of Afghanistan lies and corruption have gone Poof.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            with their cultural penchant for pederasty and shooting young girls in the head for the crime…

            Rather like the Libyan cultural penchant for slave markets that appeared after Clinton’s little jape of “We came, we saw, he died” after Qaddafi was overthrown and murdered?

            Afghanistan has been under a free floating, perpetual war since the monarchy was overthrown in the 1970s when the country was relatively free, prosperous, and law abiding, but then over forty years of war with the country being the Soviet, American, Pakistani, and the many, many terrorists and warlords chew toy, can cause problems.

            This does not excuse the child rape and the other evils, but their reappearance did not just happened. Much as was the squashing of the American military’s attempts to stop the institutionalized child rape. The senior American officers who quashed the quashing to maintain favor with the child raping warlords did not just happen.

            Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    Sanders ‘outraged’ after MLB threatens to cut ties with minor league teams The Hill
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Just read about a 29 year old pitcher that inked a 9 year (as if a pitcher will last that long?) $324 million deal, which makes the next highest paid position contract signed over 7 years @ a mere $245 million seem like a piker.

    You couldn’t help but notice how juiced the ball was this past season, MLB teams broke the combined HR record by 10%, it’d be as if all mile runners could suddenly pull it off in 3:30, Abner Doubleday be damned, get the fans in the stands!

    Only it didn’t happen, a million fans got raptured from their seats compared to last year’s totals. Too slow of a game, with the average fan’s age nearing their first Social Security payment.

    Aside from signing bonuses, don’t all minor league players pretty much earn the same meager gruel, no matter if you’re the worst or best in the assorted A-Teams?

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      I heard on the sports radio it’s something like a million per game. Holy Toledo Mudhens!
      + as you point out, 29 y.o., how great will he be when he’s 38? I bet he’s good for 2 yrs max

      Reply
    2. Anon

      No, they don’t.

      The minor leagues are differentiated into three levels: A, AA, AAA. ‘A’ level players (most undrafted) average about $1000 a month during the playing season. Triple ‘A’ players are higher skill level (some drafted, so earn bonus money) and average ~ $80,000 per season (April-Sept.). As you may be aware the Fresno team (formerly affiliated with SF Giants) was a triple ‘A’ team that regularly sent players back and forth to the major league Giants. Minor league players earn a major league salary, $500,000 (minimum) during their stay on the major league team.

      As for the $324M contract for an elite pitcher, a good pitcher will beat a good hitter most of the time. Of all the 25 players on a major league baseball team, 12-13 are pitchers. Having good pitchers is better than having good hitters. Acquiring good defensive players is easier than finding good hitters. The $245M contract went to a great defensive position player who is also an exceptional hitter.

      Both were World Series heroes.

      There are only 750 players at the major league level at any one time: an elite group of workers.

      Reply
  9. timbers

    Lying by Bush and Obama over Afghanistan is this era’s Pentagon Papers

    A friend of mine once answered my question – when will we end the war in Iraq? She said “when enough body bags come back in red states.”

    Unfortunately armies of paid mercenaries solved that problem. And I no longer agree with her that blue states make a difference.

    This part is obligatory yet so American centric, implying bad things are only important because AMERICANS die – non Americans are unimportant:

    But the people who send our young men and women to die there, to suffer grave physical injuries, to return with PTSD that can’t be successfully treated or to commit suicide — at a record rate of twenty veterans per day — have known it all along.

    Reply
  10. ObjectiveFunction

    So…. India.

    [obligatory disclaimery] now I’m not claiming Modi is *not* a fundamentalist Hindu bigot and nasty piece of work.

    On the other hand, is it simply a coincidence that both Bangladesh’s neighbors, India and Myanmar, are now coming under increasing Western criticism for draconian anti-Muslim actions in their (impoverished even by their low standards) border provinces?

    Is it just possible that they have some rational basis for arguing that they can’t give homes and living to millions of destitute Bangladeshi emigrants fleeing what seems predestined to be a chronically failing state – nearly 200 million souls crammed into a maze of fetid marshlands – when they can’t yet take proper care of their own poor native populations? Is it only religious bigotry at work here?

    And hmm, does any of this sound familiar?

    I mean, yes, like Sally Struthers, my heart goes out to the children everywhere, who didn’t do anything wrong. And indeed, there are Arakanese, Bengali and Assamese Muslims whose families have lived there for centuries but are also being swept up in heavy handed military operations by armies with abominable human rights records.

    But what exactly does the West expect to achieve by sanctioning India and Myanmar for staunching this flood of desperately needy humanity across land borders? They don’t have convenient water barriers or deserts to limit the influx.

    Again, does any of this sound familiar?

    If we’re all so keen to avert humanitarian catastrophe, maybe we all need to co-own it at the source rather than going tut-tut? But global compassion fatigue has been a reality for several decades now.

    (and I can’t find a tidy way to pin this particular pit of suffering on the neoliberal world order, unless the 1947 partition of India is still entirely on the British, by sin of commission or omission)

    Reply
  11. tegnost

    From Taibbi…
    We ended up spending $9 billion on opium eradication and for our trouble massively increased opium production: Afghanistan is now where 82 percent of the world’s opium is grown.

    In the mean time the Sacklers made how much on oxy?

    Reply
    1. David Mills

      Taibbi was spot on again. The US effort in Afghanistan has moved from the “OODA Loop” to the “Stupidity Cycle”.

      Got into a (almost raging) argument regarding Afghan opium production at a party once, it does not pay to talk geopolitics with the uninformed. It started after my off hand quip on how I hold US foreign policy responsible for the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger. Sad…

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        “It is not true the Pentagon has no strategy. It has a strategy, and once you understand what that strategy is, everything the Pentagon does makes sense. The strategy is, don’t interrupt the money flow, add to it.”

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Exactly. I came to the realization long ago that they’re not really bad at their job, they’re really good at it. As a reward for their stellar performance, they keep getting increased budgets every year! Sorta like how the bankers all got giant bonuses after tanking the economy and reaping the greatest theft of wealth for the investor class in modern history.

          Distaster Capitalism is our national economic system.

          Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      Taibbi’s just plain wrong. $9 billion (I’ll take the figure for granted) was spent in the name of opium eradication.
      I know a few people who went to Afghanistan to ride the reconstruction-and-development gravy train. They all agreed there was no eradication. Farmers would call in the ‘eradicators’ when they’d harvested their crops, as a cheap way of cleaning their fields. One, whose job was specifically fighting the drugs industry, was not allowed to leave the (UNODC?) compound.
      If the USA had been remotely serious about opium eradication, they would never have backed the Northern Alliance, widely known before the invasion for its involvement in the opium trade. As it is, one of the few areas where there’s been any economic development is the opium industry: opium is now refined into heroin within Afghanistan, rather than being exported raw.

      Reply
      1. Cynthia

        I think you misunderstood what Taibbi was trying to say, suggest, or imply in his Rolling Stone piece. Just because the US spent $9 billion to eradicate the opium trade in Afghanistan doesn’t necessarily mean the money was used to do that. If anything, in this particular case, as is in most cases, it was used to do the very opposite, which was to beef up the Afghan opium market.

        The only certainty involving this case, as it is for most, if not all, cases involving government expenditures, is the money was spent. That’s for sure. As to how the money was spent always remains a complete unknown until all the details are revealed.

        But because no one in government is likely to reveal such things, especially anyone in the shadow government, and because the press is in cahoots with the government, including the shadow government, hence its name the Fourth Estate, all the details involving government expenditures remain in the proverbial black box, under tight lock and key, of course.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Taibbi likes just stating what he knows as a reporter but avoids reporting on “deep politics” and so on. As someone familiar with government contracting–it’s appearances that count actually doing what you are claiming to do is optional. Corruption in the USG is systemic and impossible to remedy particularly in war zones.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Disagree.

            We stopped the Vietnam War and we can stop the American War on Afghanistan.

            As John and Yoko told us on huge billboards they bought around the world.

            WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT

            Reply
      2. pjay

        Yes. Anyone who knows anything about the CIA knows that “Drug Lords-R-US” in the world’s major battlegrounds. They provide great cover for clandestine operations, ruthless enforcers against whatever enemies we identify, and a nice cash flow. This has been well documented by Alfred McCoy, Douglas Valentine, Peter Dale Scott, Robert Parry, and many others over the years.

        I welcome the spotlight brought by the Washington Post’s “Afghanistan papers.” But anyone who thinks this simply reflects massive bureaucratic incompetence rather than intentional policy is being duped by the usual post hoc limited hangout (I’m not necessarily accusing Taibbi himself of this).

        Reply
    3. lordkoos

      It appears to me as if the US military is now more or less guarding the Afghan opium crop, (after the Taliban had virtually eliminated it). The CIA has to get their funding where they can I guess.

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Jill Biden: Trump is ‘afraid’ to go against my husband”

    I suppose that old Joe thought it a good idea to have his wife put her two bits in. She did that back in August and Jimmy Dore went to town on what she said in a 14-Minute video which amounted to that yeah, Joe sucks but voters should suck it up and vote for him anyway (some language)-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbV3l5j3S4E

    Reply
    1. RMO

      Well this certainly seems like a “please, Br’er Fox, don’t fling me in dat brier-patch,” cue for Trump. Biden is probably the one Trump would have the easiest time baiting and making a fool of in a campaign.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      Anyone else notice how tired and shopworn Mrs. Biden looks in those clips?
      “Vote for Joe™, cuz he’s the good guy.”

      Nominate Biden (or anyone but Sanders) and get the lowest Dem turnout in recent history. Dems like that idea!

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        As a Sanders supporter, I’m honestly pretty much expecting low turnout no matter who wins the Primary. If Sanders wins the Primary, the damn centrists will vote for Trump the way they did in the UK for Johnson.

        Though the Centrists will have just as difficult a time, likely more so, but the odds are most likely four more years of Trump.

        Reply
  13. .Tom

    After reading Luke Pagarani’s summary of his experience canvasing in the UK election (Links yesterday) I started wondering if the same underlying beliefs and ignorance in the electorate contributed to the SNP’s result. He described two groups of voters, one of which is 50-80 year-old working class and middle class nationalist who don’t want to share or build society with outsiders.

    I live in the USA now and have no insight into the SNP’s messaging but it seems that a nationalist party should be able to appeal to the equivalent group in Scotland. Make the appropriate substitutions in…

    The real charge against Corbyn is that he fundamentally believes that British/white lives are of equal value with the lives of others. Our opponents wouldn’t put it so bluntly but that is what it has always been about. That prioritisation of British lives must always be assumed, never justified, taken for granted as the ground the state is built on, never officially avowed except through ritual.

    I finally came around to the SNP after various disappointments: a) failure of the original Gang of 4 SDP; 2. conversion of Labor to Thatcherism; C – death of Labor in Scotland, iv. conversion of the Tories to English Nationalism and hard Brexit. I owe my deep anti-nationalist ideology to the SNP (my adolescent political awareness began in the 70s in Scotland) but Nicola Sturgeon made them more palatable.

    Now I wonder if SNP’s winning formula is the kind of unspoken nationalism Pagarani describes combined with a friendly, pragmatic pro-independence leader who can seem plausibly inclusive to someone like me who seeks reasons for hope.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      It sounds horrible when you describe it in those terms, but it’s arguably part of the human condition, even a necessary part. I don’t think anybody would seriously argue against people’s right to prioritize the wellbeing of their family and loved ones over the general mass of humanity in terms of directing their own efforts, for example. It’s where the boundaries are drawn that can become problematic.

      Matthew Woodring Stover wrote an interesting book on this theme among others, called ‘The Blade of Tyshalle’ (it’s also a pulpy, hyper-violent sci fi/fantasy novel, so won’t be to everyone’s taste). He created an entity that he called ‘The Blind God’ as a collective embodiment of ever-expanding human civilization. It was a kind of idiot, unstoppable force that was always hungry and befouled everything it touched. Its avatars were free to commit all manner of atrocities without moral consequence, through the magic of collective responsibility. It must always continue to grow and to consume, and everyone must work to that end, because otherwise the consequences would be unthinkable (e.g. millions of people starving and dying for lack of resources). There is a scene where it successfully manages to subvert one of the heroes by convincing her that she has an obligation to save millions of unknown lives by sacrificing thousands of known ones. You end up cheering the hero when he announces that he’s willing to burn the world to save what he loves, which is an uncomfortable feeling to say the least.

      Reply
  14. Mark K

    I couldn’t help connecting the dots between Matt Taibbi’s article about the horrendously wasteful misadventure in Afghanistan and Rosemary Gibson’s article about the US ceding the manufacture of medicines to China. The two pieces together highlight clearly the misguided priorities of our national government.

    By the way, the revelations in the Washington Post series on Afghanistan come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading Tomdispatch over the years.

    Reply
    1. Watt4Bob

      The two pieces together highlight clearly the misguided priorities of our national government.

      Our national government has a ring in its nose, by which it is, itself, misled.

      Our problem is that we’re yelling at the government, demanding change, all the while ignoring those who put the ring in its nose, and hold the rope.

      Reply
  15. human

    Where Christmas trees come from

    Perhaps “natural” would be a more accurate adjective as they certainly aren’t “live” once they are cut. Another example of cognitive disonance.

    Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Dangerous Chokehold on Our Medicines”

    National interest says that America needs in own drug-producing capacity.

    National security says that this is a potentially catastrophic vulnerability that America has.

    The Medical establishment says that this is dangerous for the lives of their patients.

    The Washington establishment and economists say TINA

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      “China has demonstrated its prowess to funnel illegal fentanyl to communities ravaged by unemployment.” – Meanwhile, legally or not, US pharma has demonstrated its prowess to funnel opioids to these same communities. Where’s the big difference?

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        And US/global companies and US govt* have demonstrated their prowess in creating communities ravaged by unemployment.

        *at every level, by commission and omission.

        Reply
      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I vaguely recall watching ” Bande a part ” as a pubescent schoolboy & remember her as being strangely fascinating. Sadly my late wife & I never managed to complete our resolution to run through a gallery at the Louvre & do the Madison in a Parisienne cafe.

        Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Turkey: S-400 system ‘vital’; will retaliate to any US sanctions”

    There is no way that the Turks will ever give up this missile defense system for a very good reason. It does not have an American hidden off-switch. And it looks like that the Turks will be needing missile defense against at the very least the Greeks. They recently signed a deal with Libya to try and claim most of the off-shore oil & gas deposits between these two countries for themselves. Apparently they have been shipping Jihadists from Idlib into Libya to shore up that besieged government.
    Maybe they figure all those deposits will fuel the Ottoman Empire 2.0 as that is what they seem to be aiming for and they do not care who they cross to do so. Just the past day or so two Turkish Navy ships chased off an Israeli research ship that was in Cypriot waters. This may also explain why Egypt too defied the US and purchased modern Russian fighters – as they figure that they may be needing them too soon. Here is a link discussing a potential Turkey-Greek war over these resources-

    https://www.fort-russ.com/2019/10/any-upcoming-greece-turkey-armed-conflict-will-determine-the-energy-future-of-both-countries/

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I mentioned that two Turkish Navy ships chased off an Israeli research ship that was in Cypriot waters. Looks like things are heating up. After that, Israeli fighters buzzed a Turkish that was drilling for gas near Cyprus. I do not know if it is true or not but I understand that Israeli ships are about to do exercises in this area where their research ship is-

      https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/israel-news/1810890/battle-of-attrition-between-turkey-and-israel-heats-up-on-the-mediterranean.html

      Reply
  18. KLG

    Regarding the Chinese chokehold on medicines, in the past year there has been much whinging, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about Chinese research scientists maintaining institutional ties in China concomitant with their paid academic positions in the US (Qwant yields pages of results). This is naturally oversold by the usual political suspects, but it is also comes as no surprise to anyone active in the various research communities of the US since the first, largely older, Chinese scientists arrived here in the late 1970s and early 1980s as they emerged from the oblivion of the Cultural Revolution. To paraphrase Lenin, yes, we will finally hang ourselves and Market Fundamentalism will be the rope.

    Reply
  19. lyman alpha blob

    RE: How to Avoid Amazon This Holiday Season

    Is it really that hard to figure out? How about just don’t order anything from them, buy your gifts at a brick and mortar store or order online directly from the seller*, and if you need to ship some gifts, use the US postal service or UPS.

    Please spare me the excuses about living in rural areas where you must drive 100 miles through a blizzard both ways just to get to the closest general store. I grew up in a rural area where the nearest department store was a half hour drive and we managed to survive just fine before the interwebs came into existence. If Amazon wants to be the delivery service for antisocial rural hermits**, I will gladly cede that market to Mr. Bezos.

    Amazon is not a necessity. What it and other platforms do is provide extreme “convenience”*** to the point where no one has to plan ahead for anything if they don’t want to. So they don’t – why expend the effort when the tech companies are more than willing do your thinking for you! Every minute desire is just a click away on your phone.

    The article on Ring hacking epitomized how people will gladly hand over their lives to Amazon for convenience without thinking through the consequences. And then the “victim” had to go through the Sisyphean task of changes all the passwords on all of their other internet connected devices. The horror!

    *I tried to order directly from a seller recently and the seller only used Amazon to do their fulfillment so it isn’t always easy. I did find a similar item at an actual store when I was browsing for something else though!

    **I say this as someone looking forward to being an antisocial rural hermit someday.

    ***Maybe convenient for the person doing the ordering, not so much for other people and the planet when you consider the poor labor practices, the expenditure of energy and all the packaging waste produces just to get somebody a widget before the end of the day.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Not a single mention of Netflix in the whole article, nor of Amazon’s ubiquitous cloud computing services.
      Whyever are these absent in an article ostensibly about avoiding Amazon?

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        because many journalists fundamentally do not understand Amazon (or do and don’t want to draw attention to it cuz they generally like the company)…..

        Amazon’s retail, logistics, media arms essentially make no money and the entire company is kept afloat by the profits from the AWS cloud division and the eBay-like fees it earns from third party sellers on its platform. (arguably)

        Then throw in alleged monopolistic/unfair practices engaged by Amazon (using its proprietary data to undercut third party sellers, among others).

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          many journalists fundamentally do not understand Amazon
          It doesn’t take a huge intellect or years of painstaking research to realise that Amazon is big in computer- and internet-related stuff, even if the technical ins and outs of cloud services are a little arcane. It must surely be that they don’t want to draw attention to this side of Amazon.

          Reply
    2. neo-realist

      I would at least defend Netflix for their catalog of foreign and independent film. Try finding fassbinder, van trier, gaspar noe, godard, or B-movie exploitation fare at the nearest multiplex.

      Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        I might recommend Mubi, a streaming service (partly supported by the EU iirc) with a 30 day roster of curated films, independent and arthouse.

        Also, The Criterion Channel is a streaming service available in the US that I desperately wish I could avail myself of.

        Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        Try finding fassbinder, van trier, gaspar noe, godard, or B-movie exploitation fare as torrents. (It helps to live somewhere that has little regard for copyright laws!)

        Reply
    3. EMtz

      Closed my amazon account some time ago. I still shop a lot online but have rarely not found alternatives. Pricing isn’t all that different, I never bought into Prime anyway (why the big rush??) and I sleep better at night. amazon basically counts on people’s laziness and undisciplined impatience. Why buy into *that*?

      Reply
  20. Summer

    RE:’I Slept With My Gun’: What It’s Like to Get Your Ring Camera Hacked” Gizmodo

    These “Ring” incidents are straight out of “Black Mirror.”

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Papa-razzi

      After buying one of the Amazon-owned company’s doorbell cameras, John installed four more Ring devices around the house: Two Stick Up cams to watch the kids and the doggy door, as well as two floodlights equipped with cameras outside. A rash of vehicle burglaries in the neighborhood had led to the purchase. Now he was forced to disconnect them all and then begin about the annoying task of changing the passwords on every internet-connected device he owned.

      “You hear about celebrities being targeted,” John said. “But I didn’t think it would happen to me.”

      Reply
  21. jeremyharrison

    That “100,000 empty homes” is a bit hyperbolic. That’s based on a 5.6% vacancy rate, which is LOW. Miami, for example, has a 17% vacancy rate.

    Most “vacancies” are homes that are for sale or for rent, or empty while going through renovations prior to being put on the market, for sale or rent.

    In SF proper though, estimates are that there are about 10,000 – 15,000 units held off the market at any given time, because of rent and eviction controls. If anyone is thinking of selling within the next 3 years or so, the numbers work out that it makes more sense to keep it vacant for those 3 years, because it’s both expensive and extremely burdensome to regain possession of a home or unit in SF once it’s tenant-occupied (and the market value, if sold with a tenant in place, substantially drops). Long story – the laws are incredibly complex here. Same in Berkeley and Oakland. Not so much in Silicon Valley, yet, although new state laws are about to make it so.

    But overall, that 5.6% vacancy rate is less than normal, not higher than normal….

    Reply
  22. Pookah Harvey

    From Taibbi’s article:
    “One unidentified contractor told government interviewers he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a U.S. county. He once asked a visiting congressman whether the lawmaker could responsibly spend that kind of money back home: “He said hell no. ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’ ”
    Please make a copy of this and hand it to anyone that tells you we can’t afford free college or Medicare for All.

    Reply
    1. anon y'mouse

      spending that much money should have made Afghanistan one of the jewels of the western world, or eat least updated their infrastructure to 1960s levels, right?

      instead, it is still rocks and goats. so, like our own economy, all of the money just got snaffled upstairs into somebody’s pockets.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        that much money should have made Afghanistan one of the jewels of the western world
        I’ve read that, for a while, Kabul was seen as ‘the party capital of the world,’ which probably made it a jewel in the eyes of the NGOs and contractors based there. Exciting pie-in-the-sky plans for democracy and gender equality by day, glitzy nightclubs and mountains of cocaine by night.

        Reply
  23. David

    Re the (rather out of date ) story on Algeria.
    If you have any space in that part of your brain that thinks about elections, then, after the UK and the US, spare a thought for Algeria, where recently hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating against elections. Yes, that’s right, against elections, as in “We don’t want these elections, cancel them now.”
    The reason, of course, is that these were not seen as legitimate elections, but rather as a last, desperate, attempt by the existing power structure to remain in place. The Chief of the Army, Gaad Salah, remains the strong man of the country, and if some of the Bouteflika clique is in prison awaiting trial, a lot of it isn’t. The Algerians, a very mature and disabused people, could see perfectly well what was going on.
    Last Thursday’s elections were very poorly supported as a result. Barely 40% of the population bothered to turn out, and even that figure, according to well informed sources like El Watan, is probably inflated. Of the 9 million who voted, over one million cast a blank vote. The victor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, is an establishment figure who was both a Minister and Prime Minister under Bouteflika. The only bright spots are that the candidate of the FLN, the traditional party of independence, did worst of all, and the Islamist candidate, who had promised supporters he would win, was soundly beaten into second place.
    But none of that solves the problem. The people want change but can’t agree what it should be. The old regime, under different disguises and divided against itself , is ultimately unwilling, and probably unable, to give up power. The old may be dying (literally in some cases), but if the new is struggling to be born, it’s taking an awfully long time.

    Reply
  24. Chauncey Gardiner

    Oh, Yay!… it’s the ‘DC Magic Show’ and the lobbyists have been busy little beavers this Holiday Season. While your attention was diverted to the issue du jour, the masters of illusion just gave a $40 billion windfall to Wall Street and deregulated financial WMDs.

    “… So, while you’re probably paying attention to other things, this administration is quietly giving Wall Street a $40 billion gift. Not good!” —Graham Steele; December 11, 2019

    https://mobile.twitter.com/steelewheelz/status/1204882141617610752

    Unfortunately I suspect this policy change increases the potential vulnerability of the FDIC insurance fund to speculative losses at the large banks. As we saw with the $185 billion AIG bailout and that of so many others in the last financial crisis, $40 billion was woefully inadequate to cover derivatives losses due to the interconnected exposures of large financial institutions. Accordingly, the swap margin requirement should be increased, not decreased. Further, if everything is so safe and wonderful, regulations should require swap contracts be booked in bank holding company subsidiaries that are not FDIC-insured depository institutions. Why hasn’t this been done and why isn’t this material revision to regulatory policy a subject of highly visible public discussion at House Finance Committee hearings?…

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Jamie showed the Fed what he can do if he doesn’t get his way (repo madness)…so surprise surprise he got his way.

      TBTF

      TBTJ

      Thanks, Obama

      Reply
  25. Craig H.

    > Cruising Pamir Highway, the heart of the Heartland

    Pepe Escobar’s article is pretty good and the pictures are great. I looked up the Ak-Baita pass (15272 ft) in google maps and the current satellite view is from minimum snow cover season and it is quite a spectacular view. The Chinese are building new roads all the way (Belt and Road project) but there is as close to nothing there as there can possibly be. In the winter it gets down to -60 degrees centigrade (that is -76 F).

    38°33’39″N 73°35’51″E if you want to take a look

    Reply
    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      I too appreciated the interesting travelogue by Pepe Escobar. Coupled with his knowledge of the history and cultures of the region, together with its emerging strategic importance, it looks to provide the basis of a worthwhile book. Hope he’s up for it. Reminded me of the Icelandic film “Cold Fever”, and maybe film would be a superior media.

      Reply
  26. Redlife2017

    I would like to thank Col. Smithers, Clive, and Vlade for their analysis over the months regarding Brexit and the UK election. I was very wrong in some of my own feelings on the subject as the election started, as I wanted to be positive. But goodness, as I’ve noted, it was run shockingly bad by Labour. I was speaking to two long-time Labour voters yesterday and today and both said to me – “I voted Labour, not for Corbyn.” We have a lot of work to do everywhere. Vlade was very right indeed…

    So, what next? I think Corbyn has been honest that we need to listen to the northern working class. The party has become the US Democrat party being only in cities. I have no clue if there is anyone who can be leader who will be able to do that.

    Reply
  27. dcrane

    Another batch of leaked documents from frustrated investigators has emerged from the OPCW (via Wikileaks), further damaging its credibility in regards to the alleged Assad chemical attack in Douma in 2018.

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/12/15/deluge-of-new-leaks-further-shreds-the-establishment-syria-narrative/

    What’s nice is the way these are coming out in stages, allowing the Bellingcats of the world all the rope they need to hang themselves in full public view.

    Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    ‘We Have Just Been Handed the Pentagon Papers of Our Generation”

    I don’t think I can do justice to the terrible sinking sensation Sjursen invokes. It is JUST LIKE Vietnam. Evidently we learned nothing, except not to use draftees (but it took 10 YEARS to ramp up opposition to the Vietnam War, even with the draft) and to get the PR right – which is what this article is ultimately about.

    Now we don’t even have much of a peace movement, outside Veterans for Peace, because the Democrats, especially the Kerry campaign, deliberately destroyed it – to promote voting for their own flavor of evil, instead of the Republicans’. Evil is evil; no excuses. And it goes right back to Carter, who deliberately fomented that war as a trap fo rthe Russians – that the US then fell into itself. Agency: that Bush/Cheney thrust us into, with the Democrats’ complete complicity. All that blood is on their hands, too. In fact Sjursen is unfair to the generals: if they had spoken up, they would simply have been replaced and the war would have gone on regardless. Maybe the rest of us would have less excuse, but less than none doesn’t amount to much.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      I feel a little better: Taibbi can’t get to the emotional core, either. There’s nothing wrong with his piece; he has a good point. But he’s too young to remember the Vietnam War, so he doesn’t fully appreciate the depth of folly and malice.

      Reply
    2. VietnamVet

      By getting rid of the draft, the Elite also trashed the middle-class since they no longer need the troops that working families provided in sufficient numbers to win wars. Because of this, Deplorables deserted the liberal US Democrat and UK Labour Parties. Democrats are the party of the Empire and of big coastal cities and rely on corporate donations but won’t admit it.

      Elections will be pre-determined since they don’t matter anymore. National Governments don’t work. Supra-nationals who are above the law have the power. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump will huff and puff and generally make things worse but they don’t have control over the corporate state. Neither can jail wealthy criminals. Jeff Epstein did not get justice. Professionals who make civilization run don’t have enough money to get their kids into prestigious universities anymore. When aspiring Insiders realize that they are Deplorables too, the Empire dies.

      Reply
    3. Anon

      Well, not quite 10 years. US deployments to Vietnam doubled from 1965 to 1966. By 1968 the deployment was triple 1965. As I remember it, 1968 was big year for anti-war demonstrations. (Along with the assassinations of Kennedy and King.) Not saying that people in the streets had more to do with public sentiment than TV pictures of body bags, or Walter Cronkite intoning deeply against the folly of the war, but opposition was readily apparent by 1968. I guess both of us were present.

      Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    “I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it
    Kenneth Stern”

    Mister Stern has a lot to answer for, and being “shocked, shocked” that his dishonest definition is being misused – precisely as it was intended – doesn’t cut it.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      The blowback here is that you may get much more antisemitism. A lot of people will say look how Jewish people are attacking freedom of speech and expression in the US with these new laws and how they attacked Corbyn in the UK. It won’t matter that the bulk majority of them did no such thing but that will not matter as the stigma – and resentment – will be there.
      I suppose that the next step for these hard right Jews will be to lobby for internet censorship to stop criticisms of that law. Ironically the law is being written to protect Jewish people but that is not its real purpose. It was really being written to protect criticism of some Israeli parties (like Likud) in Israel itself which, according to my map, is another country thousands of miles from the US.

      Reply
  30. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the educational post from Project Syndicate on the disintegration of the body politic of India under Modi’s BJP rule and that nation’s rapid descent into xenophobia, violence, and irrationality. Unfortunately, and as the writer observed, the salient characteristics are not unique to that nation or this time. Not to diminish Texans’ hospitality toward a prominent foreign leader, who gave him a warm “Howdy Modi!” welcome when he visited Houston with the president in September:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/howdy-modi-trump-rally-pushes-unity-prime-minister-narendra-modi-houston-texas-today-2019-09-22/

    Reply
  31. ambrit

    Greetings and felicitations to one and all.
    Phyllis is doing fine after the lower left leg amputation. I am spending most of the days and the nights, (in my trusty sleeping bag,) with her in the rehab wing of the hospital. If anything, she has become, “extra feisty.” As my Mom used to say, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.”
    We got yet another DCCC money grubbing “phaque poll.”
    As usual, this missive is ‘sourced’ to the office of Nancy Pelosi. This “poll” is titled: Democratic Presidential Candidate Straw Poll.
    The candidates are listed in alphabetical order, double column.
    They are:
    Cory Booker
    Joe Biden (Top right hand corner spot, no less. I wonder at the placement. /s)
    Pete Buttigieg
    Julian Castro
    Tulsi Gabbard
    Kamala Harris (How long ago was this list composed?)
    Amy Klobuchar
    Beto O’Rourke
    Bernie Sanders
    Tom Steyer
    Elizabeth Warren
    Andrew Yang
    Other (Write in space.)

    Interestingly enough, the lowest ‘contribution’ shown on the form is now $15 USD. If my memory serves me well, I think the previous funds raising letters had ‘minimum’ contributions of $20 USD. Is fund raising getting harder? The DCCC is also touting “Large Donor Matching Amounts.” Now, the cynic in me wants to know if a “matching contribution” counts towards the big donor’s ‘limit,’ or the small donor’s limit? One would be propaganda worthy “grassroots” funding, while the other would be classic “Plutocratic Candidate ‘Influencing.'”
    What a world!

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thanks. Solidarity is indeed one of the human races prime virtues. That we are capable of virtue and vice, the concepts, much less the actions, says quite a lot about the nature of our ‘existences.’ Stay warm up there!

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thanks. This is more than enough. To have the support of others, of good will being assumed, indeed, defined by the act of solidarity, is of inestimable help. The patients psychological state influences the healing process. Having such wide ranging support enhances the positive aspects of the psychological component here.
        What is also somewhat happily surprising is that relatives from both sides of this dyad are volunteering assistance, unasked. It makes my cynical self hide in shame.
        You be strong.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Thank you Arizona Slim. That hospital room should have some seriously resonating “healing crystals” today. (That’s actually a good idea Arizona Slim. I’ll try to find some hanging crystals and hang them in the room. It should remind her of our old Crypto Hippy days. [Imagine a seriously non-conformist mystical woman who did not and does not do drugs. That’s Phyllis. {I lie. She does have a Jones for oxycodone right now. Something to do with the pain of a ‘missing’ pedal extremity. When that problem is solved, she’ll jump off of the pain meds. She’s like that.}])
            The above makes me think about the reasons for all the rampant drugs use here in Deploristan. The first political movement that can supply some believable hope, (there’s that word again,*) to the dispossessed of America will enter into an extended period of rule. As Lambert is prone to say; “Concrete material benefits.”
            * Obama seems to have permanently ruined the Democrat Party’s grip on the allegiance of the working classes of America with the “Hope and Change” confidence trick.
            In the field of political discourse, “Hope” is quickly assuming the nature of a pejorative.

            Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Thank you for the update, and best of luck to both of you.
      Nurses say the “difficult” patients recover the best.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        That’s good to know! I have been constantly battling my internal Demon inspired desire to “manage” things. I’m not the Patient I keep telling myself.
        I won’t tell Phyl what you mentioned, out of self preservation impulses if nothing else!
        thanks.

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        You are correct dear commentator.
        I’ll go a step farther and call for Improved Medicare For All.
        The present iteration of Medicare is somewhat neo-liberal in nature. The Medicare pays 80% of the surgery and hospital charges. The ‘patient’ is on the hook for the other 20%. There are also some deductibles. Seeing how bloody expensive “Medical Services” are in America today, the entire financial burden should fall to the State. Then, and I imagine, only then, will the Government get serious about curbing the diseased and decaying lich that is our Health Care System.
        Experiencing the duality that is the Hospital Cosmos this last week has put me in the mind that it all could be characterized as, to steal a trope from Wilde, “The Medical Practice of Dorian Gray.” Lots of Public Relations, in word, video, and facade, overlaying a hustling, bustling warren of sectors, Powers, Dominions, Feudatories, Doctors, their acolytes, and the ever present ‘Labouring Classes.’
        I will post some observations about the conditions within this hospital at a later date. It gets quite biz-zarre.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Man you guys are doing it tough. Sending you my best wishes and a rapid recovery for Phyllis. Hope she gets well enough to go home soon.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Many thanks antipodal Correspondent!
        Learning to get around with one leg, and a different centre of mass is the hard part. The surgery went almost textbook like, the surgeon’s nurse told me.
        I also have to learn the ‘right’ ways and the ‘wrong’ ways to assist her in her pershambulations. Those skills are not exactly ‘common knowledge’ level. Leverage when used with a constantly shifting body and masses can be scary. (I’m terrified I’ll “drop” her. She still ‘feels’ her missing appendage. Several times yesterday, she tried to use her missing leg to balance herself when getting out of the hospital bed.
        It’s a big old learning experience!

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Blast! The “missing” comment rematerialized! I am ending up with so much ‘egg on my face,’ I should have a big breakfast tomorrow.
        Second try. The Skynet Monsters, (there have to be more than one, it is so busy,) ate a previous comment.
        Thanks and it is a big learning experience. Phyl still can ‘feel’ the missing appendage. She tried several times yesterday to use her missing pedal extremity to balance herself with when getting out of the hospital bed. The Techs, (the term of the art for the Rehab trainers here,) get going fast!
        The Phantom Limb ‘experience’ goes as far as pain messages seeming to be produced by non-material body parts.

        Reply
    3. ambrit

      A ton of thanks to all who send “best wishes.”
      I needed this, for my psychological balance, if nothing else.
      A big thank you to Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn and the other site Admins for tolerating me today, indeed, any old day.
      I have seen the dank and fetid slough that most of the internet has become. Keeping an oasis of rationality and comity, such as is Naked Capitalism, functioning in the internet is nothing less than a Public Mental Health Service. People need to see that there is a better way to deal with disagreements and disputes than partisan mud slinging and duplicity.
      God bless you one and all.

      Reply
        1. flora

          +1. Yes, yes. I’m speechless in the face of Ambrit and Phyl’s profound health challenges.

          Ambrit and Phyl, Best wishes for healing and health.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Thanks for being aware and balanced in your attitudes towards life. Those characteristics are not as ‘evenly distributed’ as is commonly assumed. It is funny strange how relative strangers become strange relatives.
            Phyl has the real challenge. Me, I would be considered a ‘functional nut’ in most civilized countries.
            The short and extreme insult to her system has come and gone. Now for the long grind of rehabilitation. The adjustments needed to cope with this sort of injury are as much mental as physical. Phyl tried again this morning to balance herself on her phantom foot while getting out of the bed and into the wheelchair. This time she laughed at the absurdity of it. A good sign.

            Reply
        2. ambrit

          Thank you. The comity here is how I had imagined the internet should be, these many years ago.
          You stay warm and dry up there.

          Reply
      1. DJG

        ambrit: All the best to you and to Phyllis in these days after the feast of Saint Lucy, the most famous Sicilian of them all (yes, even more famous than Don Corleone). In the Julian calendar, the feast of Saint Lucy fell on the solstice and her name, meaning Light, was almost too much of a coincidence, as the protector of eyesight, the light of the eyes, too. The calendar reforms pushed the solstice off the feast of Saint Lucy. We may have traded accuracy for poetry.

        And yet:
        Thanks to you for your sharp-eyed observations. Regards to Phyllis as her own light returns.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Too true! A poetic scientist is the one who makes the unsuspected connections.
          Oh, it was a week of full moons, signs, and portents.
          The fell deed was done Wednesday last, in the morning. A tumourous leg exchanged for a new way of living in the world.
          I’ll tell Phyl about St. Lucy’s day. (She might already know.) Once the Solstice is past, it will be upward bound.
          Night all.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth

          Ambrit, I’m sending you and Phyl healing thoughts. You’re an amazing person, and I always love reading your comments. It really does feel like a big family here – I hope Phyl can come home soon,

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Phyl will be in Rehab for a week to ten days. This morning the head floor nurse said that Phyl was about as strong willed and assertive as she has ever seen. As Oregoncharles mentioned above, those characteristics are associated with superior outcomes.
            Here’s hoping I can make the adjustment in my head of shutting up a lot more than usual.
            The Commentator Family effect may not be what the Site Admins intended, but here it is. I have to tread a fine line in my mind to try and not fall off into the dreaded “social media trap.”
            Stay safe.

            Reply
        1. ambrit

          Aw gee shucks! I did think after I had posted that line that it verged very close onto emotional trolling. The ego is a formidable foe of every self aware being.
          Be sweet.

          Reply
      2. Janie

        Best wishes for Phyllis’s recovery and for you both. You’ve had a rough row to hoe lately; it’s a good thing you’re tough, too. I’d like to be near enough to visit her.; my accent needs refreshing and I could bring her cheese straws and spiced pecans for the holidays.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’ll definitely steal the cheese straws. Phyl would probably go all in for the pecans.
          From where I sit, your accent reads just fine! Enjoy your holidays.

          Reply
          1. Janie

            Good to hear that Phyl is out of bed and retains the ability to laugh. Making cheese straws tomorrow with recipe from grandmother from Batesville – the kind of recipe that says add enough flour to make a stiff dough, season with cayenne to taste, and bake in a quick oven until done.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Wow! That recipe sounds like ‘rissolees de feu,’ which some have assured me was the origin of ‘chili cheese fries.’
              Make sure to keep plenty of “liquids” available for the eaters of said delicacy.
              Enjoy!

              Reply
      1. ambrit

        Phyllis lives as if there is no definite “sell by date” tattooed on her neck.
        “Why should I worry about things I cannot control?” she says. “It does get scary, but those feelings always pass off.”
        According to her, we’re getting “better days” whether we want them or not. (A sly dig at my often morbid cynicism.)

        Thanks, and stay warm. (Is the entire North of America in a freezer now?)

        Reply
    4. polecat

      What ! No stop-n-frisk sodamanmike ?? Oh, I never … WHAT’s the world coming to !! .. as polecat clutches his non-worry beads, unlike, say, Nancy’s ‘unhateful’ roseries ….

      My humble regards for your tough significant other, ambrit ! May she recover quickly, to enjoy what Mother Gaia has to offer, post solstice.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thanks ‘o back to nature Mustela!
        I have always wanted amber “worry beads.” Phyl has an old and well worn Catholic Rosary.
        Mental ‘toughness’ seems to be a requirement for the overcoming of any major setbacks and obstacles. Ignatius Loyola is said to have promoted the idea of ‘meditating’ while saying the devotions. So, i do see a specific positive associated with that form of religious observation.
        The hospital “security” are kitted out like proper police and carry firearms. The night nurse, when prompted by this aggravatingly persistent questioner, admitted that there were tow codes for “Trouble.” Code Silver means that there is an active shooter in the place. Code Black means there is a bomb threat. Whatever happened to “First, do no harm?”

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thank you. I’ll tell her that. It’ll cheer her up.
        A lot of my postings lately have been me trying to convince myself that ‘things’ will work out fine.
        Oh, be under no illusions. I have my mean and rotten side. I just hide it well. (I do like to flatter myself, don’t I?) My good fortune is that Phyllis is strong enough and forbearing enough to put up with me, and, when needed, kick back, hard!
        Essentially, I’m trying to learn from her suffering. Learn how to help selflessly. That’s very hard.
        All long term relationships are mysteries, wrapped up in “conventions.”
        (Now I’m getting prolix and pedantic. Time to shut up a while.)

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        Thanks Wukchumni. One of the things that youngsters are seldom if ever taught is how hard growing old can be. If you are not lucky with your genes, it can be an ordeal. Fortunately for us, ordeals are designed to ease transitions in one’s state of being.
        Glad your fire season is past. Good luck with the apple orchard.

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Big howdy from the Deepe Southe. Actually, today’s American Deep South is a curious juxtaposition of Neo-feudal economic relations and Melting Pot Assimilationist Social Policy. The “lower classes” of many racial and ethnic varieties are merging. The “upper and middle classes” are clinging to all sorts of nonsense that they think makes ‘them’ be “special.”
        Thank your Gods that the Sierras are a defensible position! (Ye Mongrel Hordes are gathering. Shades of the ‘Yellow Menace,’ ‘Jim Crow,’ the “subhuman” ‘Irish’, etc. etc!)

        Reply
    1. Plenue

      This whole scenario really ticks me off. I don’t even particularly like Cenk Uygur (and by extension TYT), but this whole thing is a ludicrous ‘gotcha!’ affair.

      Scouring the internet to find ugly 20 year old blog posts is utterly pathetic. Especially since Uygur has never made a secret of the fact that he was an idiot Republican in his younger days. This whole idea that because someone once said something bad they are irredeemable needs to stop. Everyone has been terrible at one time or other; I can guarantee that if you looked hard enough you could find that all of the people now calling for Uygur’s blood have said or done something ‘problematic’ at some point.

      Uygur’s old posts are extremely ugly and gross I’m not denying that (though I don’t think they ever warrant being called misogyny. Not every instance of sexism is hatred of women, and labeling everything misogyny just makes the speaker look like a hyperbolic fool). But I think his more recent record shows that he isn’t the same frat-douche he was then. People can change (not always, but it does happen).

      Are we as a society just going to abandon the concept of redemption? People are capable of being awful, and then learning to not be awful.

      As for the Sanders campaign, I don’t particularly care whether they endorse Uygur or not. But having decided to endorse him, they should have stuck to their guns, instead of retreating at the first sign of contrived opposition. This petty nonsense is a cancer, and if you concede it an inch it will take a mile. Because again, no one (or almost no one at least) has a perfectly clean record. Especially now that we’re in the age of Twitter and other social media. If we allow ‘they once said a mean thing on the internet’ to be a viable weapon against politicians, we aren’t going to have many politicians left.

      Sanders himself is remarkable in just how genuinely clean he seems to be, but not everyone is going to be a Sanders.

      Reply
  32. Carey

    ‘Glyphosate and Roundup Proven to Disrupt Gut Microbiome by Inhibiting Shikimate Pathway’:

    “..The study in rats by an international team of scientists based in London, France, Italy, and the Netherlands, led by Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London and posted on the pre-peer-review site BioRxiv, has found that Roundup herbicide and its active ingredient glyphosate cause a dramatic increase in the levels of two substances, shikimic acid and 3-dehydroshikimic acid, in the gut, which are a direct indication that the EPSPS enzyme of the shikimic acid pathway has been severely inhibited.

    In addition, the researchers found that both Roundup and glyphosate affected the microbiome at all dose levels tested, causing shifts in bacterial populations..”

    https://sustainablepulse.com/2019/12/11/glyphosate-and-roundup-proven-to-disrupt-gut-microbiome-by-inhibiting-shikimate-pathway/

    Reply
  33. Carey

    The Art of Doublespeak: Bellingcat and Mind Control

    “..Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World won the Emmy, fulfilling Bernays’ point about films being the greatest unconscious carriers of propaganda in the world today.

    Who presented the Emmy Award to the film makers, but none other than the rebel journalist Chris Hedges. Why he did so, I don’t know. But that he did so clearly sends a message to those who follow his work and trust him that it’s okay to give a major cultural award to a propaganda outfit. But then, perhaps he doesn’t consider Bellingcat to be that..”

    http://edwardcurtin.com/the-art-of-doublespeak-bellingcat-and-mind-control/

    This man is writng some important stuff.

    Reply
        1. polecat

          People have either really lost their shit ! .. or I’ve traipsed into a wholly different part of the multiverse. Such a weird time to be alive.

          Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        My German is a bit rusty but looking around it said-

        “We were pleased that you were on the ICE 74 with us on Saturday, and with 100 percent green electricity.” It said. But then it had a dig at her when they went on to say “It would have been even nicer had you acknowledged how well and competently our team treated you in your First Class seat.”

        First Class. So environmentally friendly.

        Reply
    1. Quentin

      Oh, the poor dear, she had to travel on overcrowded trains. What did she expect then a private train? Maybe she has never used public transportation before, she of the Prince’s Private Yacht. The attention she gets is a vile PR distraction from the disaster at hand. Actually an object lesson in unconscionability: a privileged girl of Swedish affluence pretending otherwise.

      Reply
  34. Daryl

    > Rep. Jeff Van Drew, anti-impeachment Democrat, expected to switch parties after Trump meeting WaPo

    Electing conservative Democrats is working out really really well, I see.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      To be fair its basically a Republican district anyway. He was the first Dem to get the seat since ’95. He also made a promise during his campaign that he would never support Pelosi as Speaker.

      But yeah, the DNC probably shoveled money into his campaign last year. What a good investment!

      Reply

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